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Title: Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Wagner Die Meistersinger Prelude
Wagner Tristan & Isolde Prelude & Liebestod
Artist(s): Wilhelm Furtwängler & The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Jaro Prohaska, Max Lorenz, Maria Müller, Camilla Kalab, Erich Zimmermann, Josef Greindl, Eugen Fuchs
Recording Info: Bayreuth Festival Orchestra - 1943 (Complete Meistersinger)
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - 1942
There is no greater conductor of Wagner in recording history than Furtwängler. These performances are, in my opinion, among his greatest. The Bayreuth Meistersinger, with an excellent cast, is as alive as any on record. The increasing excitement of the chorus as Walther sings the Prize Song is palpable. And the sound is excellent, except for a few seconds at the beginning of the 1st Act and the fact that there are some chunks missing.
I extracted the audio from the famous AEG Factory film of the Meistersinger Prelude because I always thought it a magnificent interpretation. Although improving the sound has made some orchestral mistakes more evident, this is still such an unusually lean and powerfully fleet interpretation in our pompous times that it is well worth listening to. It is one of the fastest performances I have heard, which reminds us that Wagner was played this way before Soltian and Thielemannian heaviness and affectation changed perceptions of how this music should sound.
Again, there is no other concert performance of the Prelude & Liebestod from Tristan & Isolde as powerful as this one. There is, of course, drama and ecstasy, with that typical Furtwängler heroism and eroticism. The playing of the orchestra is stunning, despite high-frequency distortion at critical times. The waves of sound overwhelm one and a sublime experience is unavoidable.