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»233 minutes of addictive music«, summed up Spiegel editor Klaus Umbach when the Tristan recording under Carlos Kleiber finally appeared in 1982. Like Furtwängler's legendary 1952 recording with Kirsten Flagstad and Ludwig Suthaus, it has long been a »cult«. Between these two poles, there are some outstanding Tristan documents: from Bayreuth, the 1952 performance with the constellation Karajan-Mödl-Vinay, and Karl Böhm's forward-pushing dramatic reading with the dream couple Nilsson-Windgassen from 1966.

That there was another vocal phenomenon in the highly dramatic field besides Nilsson can be heard in a recording from the Vienna State Opera from 1956: Gertrude Grob-Prandl. Even for the greatest singers of Tristan one has to go far back in the time machine: Lauritz Melchior is in a class of his own as a Heldentenor, just like Caruso in the Italian part, Max Lorenz remains an exception among all Wagner tenors of the 20th century due to the sheer exuberant expressivity of his singing.

Somewhat overshadowed by more famous recordings (such as the Munich live production under Leonard Bernstein and the studio recording under Antonio Pappano with Placido Domingo and Nina Stemme) is the British production under Reginald Goodall, which offers outstanding singers in John Mitchinson and Linda Esther Gray.
Christa Ludwig's recording of »Liebestod« under Otto Klemperer is unique. She would have loved to sing Isolde and Brünnhilde, but shied away from it: »You need vocal chords like Nilsson's for that«.  But what a rich full sound this voice exudes!

As a bonus, there is the »Love Music«, a Tristan suite arranged by Leopold Stokowski, which does credit to his reputation as a magician of sound.

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