Wagner - Parsifal | Mariinsky MAR0508

Wagner - Parsifal

£17.96

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Label: Mariinsky

Cat No: MAR0508

Format: SACD

Number of Discs: 4

Genre: Opera

Release Date: 20th September 2010

Contents

Artists

Gary Lehman
Violeta Urmana
Rene Pape
Evgeny Nikitin
Alexei Tanovitski
Nikolai Putilin
Mariinsky Orchestra & Chorus

Conductor

Valery Gergiev

Works

Wagner, Richard

Parsifal

Artists

Gary Lehman
Violeta Urmana
Rene Pape
Evgeny Nikitin
Alexei Tanovitski
Nikolai Putilin
Mariinsky Orchestra & Chorus

Conductor

Valery Gergiev

About

Some interpretations of Wagner’s last opera (James Levine’s, for example) feel as though they are moving through landscapes of mist and water. Not Gergiev’s, however. His approach is vigorously dramatic and red-blooded, treating this massive score as an urgent call to arms rather than a dreamy meditation.

The Mariinsky Orchestra plays with glowing commitment throughout, and if the performance doesn’t ultimately attain the spiritual depth and heights reached by Knappertsbusch or Goodall, it is still grippingly powerful: the intensity generated by the end of Act 2 quite blows one away, and Gergiev never lets Act 3 drift off into dreamy nothingness.

The cast is variable in style but high in quality. The American tenor Gary Lehman is an agreeably youthful Parsifal, bright in voice and clear in diction, if occasionally unsteady and anonymous in characterisation.


René Pape is a superbly authoritative Gurnemanz, but not even his great artistry can stop the old knight from being one of Wagner’s worst bores. Violeta Urmana makes a bossy and scary rather than seductive Kundry, but she is electrifying in her rage and torment after Parsifal has rejected her.


Those superb basses Evgeny Nikitin and Nikolai Putilin bring a distinctively Russian intonation to Amfortas and Klingsor. The Flower Maidens sound more like Valkyries, but the boys’ choir in Act I is a delight. The recording, made last year in the Mariinsky Concert Hall in St Petersburg, is spacious and clean.


Whether one finds Gergiev’s ideas wholly persuasive or not, this recording commands respect and admiration, putting the lie to the Nietzschean judgment that Parsifal is all nerve and no muscle.


Rupert Christiansen, Classical CD of the Week, Daily Telegraph, 18 September 2010


The Mariinsky label’s first Wagner opera features an exceptional international cast led by René Pape, Gary Lehman and Violeta Urmana in Parsifal - the first on SACD.

Wagner himself conducted at the Mariinsky Theatre, the start of a long association with his music, and in 1863 it was the location of the first performance of music from his, as yet, unstaged Ring Cycle.

Over the past decade Valery Gergiev has become a frequent conductor of Wagner’s operas, establishing a formidable reputation in the repertoire, although remarkably this is his first recording of the composer’s operas.

Wagner described his final complete opera as a ‘A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage’ and the work has always sparked controversy, mixing moral and religious themes with music of irresistible sumptuousness. It was inspired by Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Arthurian poem Parzifal. Yet despite the story’s overt Christian imagery, Wagner also draws on ideas from other beliefs including Buddhism. The ‘harmonic experiments’ that he adopted for his previous opera Tristan und Isolde are further refined to create music of astonishing beauty that still retains and reflects the deep morality of the tale.

Cast:
- Gary Lehman (Parsifal)
- Violeta Urmana (Kundry)
- René Pape (Gurnemanz)
- Evgeny Nikitin (Amfortas)
- Alexei Tanovitski (Titurel)
- Nikolai Putilin (Klingsor)

DSD recording, Mariinsky Concert Hall, St Petersburg, 5–13/9/09.

“Above all, this is Gergiev's Parsifal and it is the superlatively good playing of the Mariinsky Orchestra that, with René Pape's gloriously sung Gurnemanz, makes this new set essential listening for Wagnerians” - Hugh Canning , IRR September

200pp booklet: libretto in german with russian (cyrillic), english & french translations.
Sung in german.
Gramophone Editor's Choice

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