The Wagner Journal

Arnold Whittall, Reviews of Sawallisch, Ötvös and Thielemann ‘Parsifal’

Arnold Whittall, Reviews of Sawallisch, Ötvös and Thielemann ‘Parsifal’

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Reviews of Parsifal, conducted Sawallisch, Rome, 1970 (Myto, 3 CDs); Parsifal, conducted Ötvös, Venice, 2005 (Dynamic, 4 CDs); Parsifal, conducted Thielemann, Vienna, 2005 (Deutsche Grammophon, 4 CDs).

March 2007, Volume 1, Number 1, 62–4.

In April 2005, when I surveyed the entire spectrum of Parsifal recordings for Gramophone magazine, it was possible to sample no fewer than twenty-four sets of performances recorded between 1949 and 1992, extending from a Cologne Opera production conducted by Richard Kraus, which enshrined Martha Mödl’s début as Kundry, to James Levine’s New York Met version with Plácido Domingo and Jessye Norman. This principal phase of Parsifal releases was preceded by a pair of ‘historic’ sets, excerpts recorded in Berlin and Bayreuth between 1913 and 1928 (now available on Naxos) and a 1936 Buenos Aires production – with cuts – conducted by Fritz Busch (Marston). After 1992 there was a lull as companies retrenched and studio recordings of opera became less viable commercially. More recently, ‘live’ recordings of Parsifal have been fighting back, first with the 2005 DVD from the 2004 Baden-Baden performances of the notorious Lehnhoff production first seen in London (ENO) in 1999, now with the three CD sets discussed here.

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