WORKS: Tristan und Isolde
PERFORMER: Siegfried Jerusalem, Waltraud Meier, Matti Salminen, Falk Struckmann, Marjana Lipovsek; Berlin State Opera Chorus, Berlin PO/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-94568-2 DDD
This is a Tristan to put in the pantheon with the Böhm, Furtwängler and Goodall. Barenboim has been conducting the opera regularly at Bayreuth since 1981 and the cast for this recording derives largely from the latest staging there.
The two lead singers, although Wagnerian stalwarts, have only recently turned to these roles, bringing to them a human warmth that dispels any sense one sometimes gets of this work being an extended symphonic poem with voices. Meier is a near ideal Isolde and Jerusalem sounds more youthful and believable as a character than any of his rivals on disc, emphasising the lyrical aspect of the role as much as the heroic.
Struckmann is sometimes a little too quavery as Kurwenal, but is at his best in the final act. Lipovsek is a sympathetic Brangäne and the role of King Marke boasts the unsurpassed voice of Finnish bass Matti Salminen. Above everything is the guiding hand of Barenboim. His interpretation of the score is seamless and full of insight. Maybe the acoustic masks some of the orchestral detail in tuttis, but overall it is a sonic wallow. Matthew Rye