OP3365. TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 26 July, 1958, w.Sawallisch Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Wolfgang Windgassen, Birgit Nilsson, Josef Greindl, Erik Saedén, Fritz Uhl, Grace Hoffman, etc. (Austria) 4-Orfeo C 951 183, w.Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 4011790951324
"...this is Nilsson in youthful, healthy voice, in one of her more intimate, vulnerable versions of the role. There are also major revelations in Wolgang Sawallisch’s conducting. (How can it be that he never recorded this opera commercially?) His TRISTAN is an endlessly flowing river that buoys the singers and shows how often the orchestra prompts the vocal lines rather than colors them. He locates the crisis point of the opera in the first duo scene for the two lovers (reminding us that the first hour is just exposition), then caps Act I with the most dizzying confusion ever heard in these final pages. He prolongs the tiny moment the two lovers attain in Act III until it’s heartbreaking. Less expectedly, Sawallisch shapes Act II into the opera’s dramatic highlight. The bass clarinet is a full character, and Arnold van Mill becomes a Marke for the ages. It’s impossible to say what Sawallisch and van Mill have done to make this monologue all of a piece, but they command our attention for thirteen minutes and show us that this scene is suddenly real life in the midst of a fairy tale, and there’s no possibility of turning back."
- William R. Braun, OPERA NEWS, Dec., 2018
“Wolfgang Sawallisch, one of the last of the old-school German conductors, who led the Philadelphia Orchestra for nearly a decade and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich for two decades before that, embodied the German type of the ‘Kapellmeister’ in the best sense: a man steeped in music, who knew every note of every score he conducted (often from memory), who was a supportive accompanist as well as an informed interpreter and who understood how to train, develop and lead an orchestra. Never flashy, even somewhat understated, he was, at his best, insightful and illuminating.
While Mr. Sawallisch was renowned throughout Europe, he might have remained little known to American audiences had the Philadelphia Orchestra not tapped him to take over as music director in 1993. When he arrived at age 70, he underwent a veritable renaissance, evidently enjoying a new freedom, both artistic and political — far from the political squabbling that had increasingly overshadowed his last years in Munich. ‘The last 10 years, with the Philadelphia Orchestra’, he said in 2006, ‘were really the top years of my symphonic life’. His time in Philadelphia was therefore a particularly happy ending to his career. Against some expectations, the reserved, intensely private German thrived in America, and the orchestra responded warmly to him.”
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Feb., 2013
“Wolfgang [Windgassen] was, to my great joy, my Tristan….No one could sing Brangäne’s Warning more perfectly than [Grace Hoffman], and it was one of the high points of the evening to hear the beautiful sound of her voice penetrating the darkness of night, while I was enfolded in Tristan’s arms.”
- Birgit Nilsson, LA NILSSON, p.153
“The most important singer of the German Heldentenor repertory in the 1950s and 1960s, Wolfgang Windgassen employed his not-quite-heroic instrument, believable physique, and considerable musical intelligence to forge memorable performances on-stage and in the recording studio.
The tenor made his début as Alvaro in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO at Pforzheim in 1941. In 1945, he joined the Württembergisches Staatstheater in Stuttgart, steadily moving from lyric roles to more heroic parts; he remained a singer there until 1972. Upon making his début in the first postwar season at Bayreuth in 1951, he came to international attention. His Parsifal, growing from uncomprehending innocence to maturity and service, was a moving portrayal and was recorded live by Decca Records. Windgassen became indispensable at the Bayreuth Festival, excelling as Lohengrin, the two Siegfrieds, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. There, he earned the respect and devotion of the three leading dramatic sopranos of the age: Martha Mödl, Astrid Varnay, and Birgit Nilsson. Elsewhere, Windgassen made positive impressions at La Scala (where he débuted as Florestan in 1952), Paris (Parsifal in 1954), and Covent Garden, where he appeared as Tristan in 1954. Although regarded by English critics as somewhat light of voice for Wagner's heaviest tenor roles, his lyric expression and dramatic aptness were wholly admired. The Metropolitan Opera briefly heard him as Siegmund beginning in January 1957 and as Siegfried. Windgassen did not return to America until 1970, when he sang Tristan to the Isolde of Nilsson at San Francisco. Beginning that same year, he turned to stage direction. Among Windgassen's finest recordings are his Bayreuth PARSIFAL, captured with a superb cast under Knappertsbusch's direction, his 1954 Bayreuth LOHENGRIN under Jochum, his SIEGFRIEDs under both Böhm at Bayreuth and in the studio with Solti, and his Bayreuth TRISTAN with Böhm conducting and Nilsson as his Isolde.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Fritz Uhl was an Austrian operatic tenor, particularly associated with Wagner roles. Born in Matzleinsdorf, near Vienna, he studied in Vienna with Elisabeth Radó, and while still a student toured Holland with an operetta troup. He made his operatic début in Vienna, as Gounod's Faust in 1952, and then sang in Graz (1952-53), in Luzern (1953-54), in Oberhausen (1954-56), in Wuppertal (1956-58). In 1957, he began making guest appearances at the Munich State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, also appearing at the Salzburg Festival and the Bayreuth Festival.
Uhl began his career by singing lyric roles and lighter Wagner roles such as Erik in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER, and gradually moved into heldentenor roles such as Tristan, Siegmund, Stolzing, Florestan, Herod, etc. He sang widely in Europe, appearing at the Paris Opéra, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Liceo in Barcelona, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Royal Opera House in London, etc. He was also invited at the San Francisco Opera and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
A forthright singer with a fine voice, he is best known for his recording of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, opposite Birgit Nilsson, under Georg Solti.”
- Ned Ludd
“Josef Greindl was considered as one of the greatest Wagner singers of his time. He had a powerfully expressive bass voice, whose clarity of declamation exhibited his stylistic projecting ability. Josef Greindl was equally convincing in dramatic and Buffo roles. He also excelled in concert singing.”
- Aryeh Oron