Best Wagner recording on Spotify?
June 4, 2013 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by the recent Stephen Fry Wagner documentary, I'd like to listen to some of his operas at work. What are the best recordings of them that are on Spotify?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Der Fliegende Hollander conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch at the Bayreuth Festival. (This is an aircheck of a radio broadcast from 1955, so if you want something in more up-to-day sonics, try the studio version by Giuseppe Sinopoli.)

Tannhauser conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, either the concert performance on the Opera d'Oro label, or else a much earlier live recording from Bayreuth featuring Grace Bumbry, who was the first African-American to sing at this Wagner shrine.

Lohengrin: the Rudolf Kempe recording is an undisputed classic.

Tristan und Isolde. Several great, though very different recordings of this masterpiece include the Furtwangler with Kirsten Flagstad on EMI (majestic), the Karl Bohm version featuring Birgit Nilsson (feverish) and the Carlos Kleiber (delicately dreamlike.) Of great historical importance is an earlier recording with Flagstad partnered with Lauritz Melchior, perhaps the most famous operatic teaming of the 20th century. They are heard on a live 1936 broadcast from the Met conducted by Artur Bodanzky in a newly restored edition released just this past month.

Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg is a bit problematic on CD, but the von Karajan recording from Dresden is attractive and musical.

Der Ring des Nibelungen's definitive recording, conducted by Georg Solti for Decca, is not on Spotify, so I would turn to the Bohm recording from Bayreuth (also on Decca) or the more modern version led by Christian Thielemann, one of the two or three greatest among the current generation of Wagner maestros.

Parsifal can go two ways: for gripping music drama (though only okay sonics) go with the Knappertsbusch performance from 1956; for the most glamorous and luxe sound imaginable, choose the James Levine studio recording boasting Placido Domingo and Jessye Norman in leading roles.
posted by La Cieca at 10:31 PM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

The Solti Ring is on Spotify, in three identical issues (individual operas, the full set and as part of the Solti: Complete Wagner box).

And I personally might recommend the recent Parsifal under Gergiev with Gary Lehman and Rene Pape (though the Kna is also amazing and I should listen to the Levine again).
posted by mountmccabe at 5:42 AM on June 5, 2013

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