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Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - The Duet Scenes

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - The Duet Scenes

Bertrand de Billy Conductor

CD: 1
Tracks: 10
Length: 1:16:26

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$11.99

Oehms Classics
Rel. 1 Jan 2006
Recorded 2004-2005

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For what it is, this disc by soprano Deborah Polaski and tenor Johan Botha with Bertrand de Billy leading the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra can't be beat. Of course, what it is—the duet from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde—is conceptually unusual, though it does make a certain amount of sense. Because while the opera's best-known parts are the Prelude at its beginning and the "Love-Death" at its end, the hard-beating heart of the work is the ecstatic love duet at the center of Act II. Still, there are only four other true duets between the principals in the whole opera, so to fill up the running time this disc also includes the music around the duets: the whole of the fifth scene from Act I and the central scene and finale from Act II. These inclusions necessitate the addition of three other soloists plus the brief appearance of the Wiener Singverein, but they also create a sense of dramatic continuity that would otherwise be painfully lacking in a program of just duets.

The performances here are so good one regrets the exclusion of much of the opera's music. De Billy is a straight-ahead dramatic Wagner conductor, and he obtains committed playing from the Vienna Radio Symphony. But, naturally, the focus is on Polaski and Botha, and both deliver exciting performances. Polaski has a huge voice with an ardent tone and a throbbing vibrato, while Botha has a heroic voice with a clarion tone and a searing attack, and the combination of the two is just this side of overwhelming. Neither exceedingly nuanced nor especially subtle singers, Polaski and Botha go right for the passionate core of Wagner's music and deliver love duets of great intensity. A full-length recording of the opera by the same forces might reveal more fully developed characterizations, but until that comes along, fans of the works will have to be satisfied with this disc of excerpts. Oehms' super audio digital sound is very clean but still atmospheric.

© James Leonard, All Music Guide
Portions of Content Provided by All Music Guide.
© 2008 All Media Guide, LLC. All Music Guide is a registered trademark of All Media Guide, LLC.
AMG
CD 1
1 21.Sc.5: Begehrt, Herrin, was ihr wünscht; 22.Sc.5: Da du so sittsam; 23.Sc.5: Nun will ich des Eides walten 8:28
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2 24.Sc.5: War Morold dir so wert; 25.Sc.5: Ho! He! Ha! He! Am Obermast; 26.Sc.5: Du hörst den Ruf?; 27.Sc.5: Auf das Tau! Anker los! 10:59
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3 28.Sc.5: Tristan! Isolde!; 29.Sc.5: Was träumte mir von Tristans Ehre?; 30.Sc.5: Schnell, den Mantel, den Königsschmuck! 7:05
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4 6.Sc.2: Isolde! Geliebte! Tristan!; 7.Sc.2: Wie lange fern! Wie fern so lang!; 8.Sc.2: Das Licht! Das Licht!; 9.Sc.2: Der Tag! Der Tag 9:40
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5 10.Sc.2: O eitler Tagesknecht!; 11.Sc.2: In deiner Hand den süßen Tod; 12.Sc.2: Doch es rächte sich der verscheuchte Tag; 13.Sc.2: O nun waren wir Nacht-Geweihte! 9:05
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6 14.Sc.2: O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe 4:59
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7 15.Sc.2: Einsam wachend in der Nacht; 16.Sc.2: Lausch, Geliebter!; 17.Sc.2: Unsre Liebe? Tristans Liebe?; 18.Sc.2: Doch unsre Lieb 9:45
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8 19.Sc.2: So stürben wir, um ungetrennt; 20.Sc.2: Habet acht! Habet acht!; 21.Sc.2: O ew'ge Nacht, süße Nacht! 7:53
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9 27.Sc.3: O König, das kann ich dir; 28.Sc.3: Wohin nun Tristan scheidet 4:26
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10 29.Sc.3: Als für ein fremdes Land; 30.Sc.3: Verräter! Ha! Zur Rache, König! 4:06
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