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  Deutsche Grammophon -
  471 638-2
  Wagner: Arias - Terfel
  Wagner: Arias from Der fliegende Hollander, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Parsifal, Tannhauser, Die Walkure

Bryn Terfel
Berliner Philharmoniker
Claudio Abbado (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 2

Review by beardawgs February 25, 2004 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have to disagree (strongly) with Peter on this one. As far as I am concerned, this is the best Wagner SACD in our collection (other two are RQR Pentatone with Varviso and de Waart on Exton). More about those two later, performance-wise de Waart and Abbado IMO are pretty close, so it’s more about nuances and personal preferences, and comparing to both of them, Varviso is the last on my list of available Wagner conductors on SACD and in MC. Sound-wise, again, I just slightly prefer Abbado/Terfel recording, but as the Flying Dutchman overture is the only repeated item, I would strongly recommend both discs to any Wagnerian.

In direct comparison, I sligtly prefer this one in surround – orchestral sound image is clear, wide and solid, focus and distance almost ideal with the Parsifal bells coming from behind in their short appearance at the beginning of track 7. If the idea of surround recording is to give an impression of actual space this one serves that purpose completely. Abbado is in complete control and the orchestra responds perfectly, his conducting is exiting and dramatic.

Now, the only problem I can see here is the choice of excerpts that Terfel is singing, and nothing can be done about that. Wagner’s music can’t be chopped in smaller bits easily, there is no sense of continuity especially with the music he wrote for his bass/baritones. That is even a bigger problem for a singer who has no emotional or dramatic preparation to absorb the character he is singing, and if listened as a whole, this disc can sound monotonous. Also, having in mind that this disc is more about Terfel than Abbado, or even Wagner, I can understand why the recording underlines focus on his voice and singing, but that’s just a minor complaint – once you immerse yourself in this sound world you can hear and experience some of the greatest Wagner singing and musicianship made recently.

Terfel is preparing himself for Hans Sachs, Wotan and Amfortas, but I would personally much rather have his Gurnemanz in a complete Parsifal with Abbado – his concentration and dramatic impact in long monologues are stunning. From what’s on offer here, he can be equally emotional, fragile and heroic, but IMO the heroic bits works the best. And Abbado is definitely emerging as THE Wagner conductor of the day, if you’re not sure just listen to his most recent recording (unfortunately only on redbook) of extended bits from Parsifal on DG. If this is the preview of what’s to come from both of them, and DG’s understanding how to record Wagner’s music in MC, we’re in for a treat.

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Review by peteyspambucket July 21, 2003 (1 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
How boring can we get?

Abbado has no clue with Wagner. Stay away!

Terfel, while a great stage performer, doesn't do these roles justice in this excerpts SACD. He gives a pretty dull performance of everything here. It's all bad and this disc should be avoided. Sorry, I wanted to like it. You'll be bored to tears. You've been warned.

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Works: 5  

Richard Wagner - Der fliegende Holländer, WWV 63
Richard Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, WWV 96
Richard Wagner - Die Walküre, WWV 86B
Richard Wagner - Parsifal, WWV 111
Richard Wagner - Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg, WWV 70