Review by Daland February 10, 2005 (13 of 13 found this review helpful)
|This recording of Wagner's Tannhäuser (Dresden version) was released on CD only a couple of years ago (at a bargain price). While the conductor is relatively unknown (he was Karajan's assistant in a number of projects), the cast is very strong, and the same can be said for orchestra and chorus. Nilsson, who sings both Venus and Elisabeth, is at her very best. While these roles are not ideally suited to her, she uses her powerful voice with great imagination over a wide dynamic spectrum. Windgassen was one of the last tenors with a true "Heldentenor" quality. I find his portrayal of Tannhäuser very convincing. Just listen to his ringing top notes in the duet with Nilsson (which no singer of the last three decades could match) and to the anguish and pathos of his "Rome Narrative". Fischer-Dieskau provides eloquent proof that Wolfram was one of his best operatic roles. Theo Adam as the Landgrave hits all the low notes very securely although he was more comfortable in bass-baritone roles.
Sonically, this stereo SACD is a distinct improvement on the Redbook version. The orchestral sound is full and warm except for some episodes in which the high strings sound rather edgy. The overture is given a rather perfunctory reading, with the closing pages lacking in transparency. Apparently, the original tape material was a bit variable. The voices are generally well caught without any distortion and congestion even in the crowd scenes of Act II. The set comes with a libretto in German and Japanese.
This may not be the best of all Tannhäuser recordings (my ideal cast would include Grümmer, Ludwig, Windgassen, Wächter and Frick), but it is a welcome addition to the SACD catalogue.
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