Christian Thielemann

Wagner: Meistersinger; Lohengrin; Parsifal; Tristan und Isolde

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Christian Thielemann is a self-professed admirer of Wilhelm Furtwängler, and the older conductor's influence is perhaps most readily identified in these 1997 performances of the music of Richard Wagner, particularly in the fluid phrasing, elastic tempos, and swelling dynamics. One may well feel transported to Furtwängler's era, when such liberties of interpretation were common, and Wagner's music regularly received unabashedly Romantic and highly personalized treatments from German maestros. Some might consider Thielemann's rubato and drawn-out tempos to be self-indulgent and even manipulative, and he certainly takes advantage of every expressive possibility in these selections from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Lohengrin, Parsifal, and Tristan und Isolde. Then again, Thielemann's ardent fans will overlook the supposed excesses and instead revel in the passionate playing and gorgeous sonorities that the Philadelphia Orchestra produces under his direction, and especially relish the expansive readings of the Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin, the Prelude and the Good Friday Music from Parsifal, and the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan, which have always provided excellent opportunities for emoting. Deutsche Grammophon's reproduction is spectacular, with full orchestral colors and spacious dimensions.

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