• Alexander's Playlist: Wagner's Parsifal

    By Alexander Neef

    General Director Alexander Neef shares his favourite music recordings in this series of weekly recommendations.

    Wagner’s Parsifal 
    Deutsche Grammophon, 1981
    Herbert von Karajan
    Berlin Philharmonic

    Karajan is one of the most important conductors in recent opera history and he’s an artist who matters so much to me and my conception of opera.

    In my early days of fandom, I was introduced to most of the canonical repertoire through Karajan’s recordings, which remain towering achievements. His are indelible interpretations of the repertoire, communicating a particular view and style of the music that also manages to sound inevitable, something that feels like a definitive channeling of the very soul of a score.

    With this Parsifal he achieved something astoundingly beautiful, bringing out the luminous and sublime qualities of Wagner’s music with such richness and texture that you can spend hours and hours revisiting this recording — I have! — while continuing to find new depths and pleasures in it.

    The cast is excellent, with Peter Hofmann, one of the most prominent Wagner tenors of his time, performing the title role. José van Dam as Amfortas and Dunja Vejzović as Kundry are both brilliant, but I especially want to draw your attention to the Gurnemanz of bass Kurt Moll, surely one of the greatest singing actors of all time, turning in what is one of the most inspired performances of his career. Moll’s darkly rich voice seems to leap out of the speakers and to enter the room. It’s remarkable that even in a recorded format, he manages to conjure nuance, colour, and dimension that almost approximates a live performance.

    —Alexander Neef

    Music credit: Wagner’s Parsifal. Herbert von Karajan, conductor, with the Berliner Philharmoniker, 1981. Deutsche Grammophon

    Posted in Alexander Neef Playlist


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