A titanic work in every sense of the word, Wagner's 'Parsifal' is the culmination of the composer's symphonic conceptions of opera and here it does receive a reading deserving of that grandeur.
Arts have already released a splendid 'Meistersinger' (already reviewed here) under the same helm and this 1980 recording is probably even grander. Kubelík is a much underrated Wagnerian and here he brings a total commitment to proceedings that infects all concerned.
Weikl is a convincing Amfortas whilst Kurt Moll is an outstanding Gurnemanz. However the true heroes of this set must be the forceful James King as Parsifal and the outstanding Yvonne Minton as Kundry. These important parts are sung with great verve and passion bringing a hallowed quality to proceedings that is sometimes missing from the Solti set.
Speeds are more or less as one would expect and the work flows finely along especially in the massive First Act that so often tends to drag. The Third Act is also remarkable for the commitment of the singers married to some excellent playing by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Solti's classic Decca recording and Karajan's similarly acclaimed set with the Berliners may have dominated the scene in this opera for the past 30 years. One must also not forget what is probably the greatest version of them all, Hans Knappertsbusch's live 1962 Bayreuth version that has stood the test of time for almost half a century. However, I would add this splendid reading to that sturdy trio and thus make a quartet of essential 'Parsifal' recordings. ARTS price is also right and a full libretto is provided, adding to the attractive qualities of Kubelík's memorable conducting.
Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech