R. Wagner, Tristan und Isolde (live), Christian Thielemann
Munich must be salivating to have him take on their Philharmonic [Ed. alas, not for that long], continuing the tradition that had its sumptuous glory honed by the late Celibidache before James Levine (now in Boston) took over. Thielemann makes Wagner glow and bristle that it is a joy. The recording, live as it is, is marred by some uneven balances—the choir especially is set rather far back compared to all studio recordings and other live accounts—and the stage noises, contributing at times, can be distracting at other times. The fine Tristan this is, it does not replace among modern recordings my cherished Barenboim version with Waltraud Meier, Siegfried Jerusalem, Marijana Lipovsek, etc.. As far as live versions go, Karl Böhm's recording (also on three CDs) with Birgit Nilsson and Wolfgang Windgassen holds out. Furtwängler's, too, is still a Tristan to listen to, despite its age, especially in its new cheap EMI edition. To explore either Thielemann's or Voigt's artistry, this is a great set to have, and if you have only this Tristan in your collection, you aren't off badly at all, either.