OP0593. TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 25 Jan., 1967, w.William Smith Cond. Philadelphia Opera Ensemble; Ernst Gruber, Hanne-Lore Kuhse, Irwin Densen, Ramon Vinay (as Kurwenal), Walter Knelar, Blanche Thebom, etc. (Czech Republic) 3-Ponto 1026. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 8717202250264
“This set has one thing going for it that is enormously impressive: the Isolde of German soprano Hanne-Lore Kuhse. Hardly a household name, Kuhse was making her American debut the night this was taped, and she is a splendid Isolde - fiery, vengeful, in shock, loving, grieving - and her bright, grand tone is stirring and attractive. Why wasn’t she more famous? Two names provide the answer: Varnay and Nilsson, both just seven years older than she and both powerhouses who cornered the market. But Kuhse should be heard, and this is a grand opportunity.
Tenor Ernst Gruber (1918-79) apparently was a famous Tristan (he sang the role more than 80 times) and he is fine here. He has no difficulties with the role’s forcefulness, he sings tenderly in the second-act Love Duet (albeit at one point and for bars and bars on end, very flat), and has all the right emotive devices for the third act. Blanche Thebom’s Brangaene is superb in Act 1, yet she sings flat in her offstage warning in the second act. Ramon Vinay, back to his original baritonal self by 1967 when this was taped, sings Kurwenal well, but a bit facelessly….There are pretty massive cuts in each act."
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com