Monday, August 13, 2007

Praise opening up a minor gripe

AC Douglas praises, albeit guardedly, Donald Runnicles' BBC Proms concert Götterdämmerung. He mentions that he is unwilling to give his highest praise, the "Wagner Gene," without hearing the rest of Der Ring and Tristan und Isolde.

My minor gripe is that Runnicles did record Tristan und Isolde a while back, as part of (if I recall) a series of one-act-per-night performances. It's out on Warner Classics, and I assume, though the collapse of that label with the usual record merry-go-round make things questionable, it is still available. It was, though, overwhelmed by the obsessive and (in my opinion) idolatrous mania surrounding EMI's Domingo Tristan und Isolde. It was done with the BBCSO and a solid cast, with Brewer's incandescent Isolde at the very top. John Treleaven's Tristan was good, but I won't be throwing away my Böhm set with Windgassen.

Runnicles, too, seemed to have a very good grasp of Wagner's score. It is a shame that the EMI set took pole position. Pappano is a solid conductor, but I don't know that he is any great shakes as a Wagner conductor (notwithstanding either his or Mr. Runnicles' possession or not of Mr. Douglas' gene). Runnicles, though, seems willing to let Wagner do his thing.

In the final tally, that, then, is the only thing that matters. It's a good set, though Kleiber probably still takes my top honors - despite Kollo and Fischer-Dieskau.


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