I’ve chosen Karajan’s version because he gets the tempo and the feel just right. Not too much vibratro here, which other conductors sometimes bring to the piece, making it sound too overwrought. He gets it spot on. A touch of vibrato, but he let’s the notes speak for themselves, whilst the languid tempo evokes a mystical atmosphere to the piece.
I hope you enjoy this wonderful music.”
Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde, or Tristan and Isolda, or Tristran and Ysolt) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it “eine Handlung” (literally a drama. a plot or an action), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.
Wagner’s composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer (particularly The World as Will and Representation) and his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner’s unprecedented use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.
The opera was inexorably influential among Western classical composers and provided direct inspiration to composers such as Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Karol Szymanowski, Alban Berg, Arnold Schönberg and Benjamin Britten. Other composers like Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky formulated their styles in contrast to Wagner’s musical legacy. Many see Tristan as the beginning of the move away from common practice harmony and tonality and consider that it lays the groundwork for the direction of classical music in the 20th century. Both Wagner’s libretto style and music were also profoundly influential on the Symbolist poets of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.
Wagner was forced to abandon his position as conductor of the Dresden Opera in 1849, as there was a warrant posted for his arrest for his participation in the unsuccessfulMay Revolution. He left his wife, Minna, in Dresden, and fled to Zürich. There, in 1852, he met the wealthy silk trader Otto Wesendonck. Wesendonck became a supporter of Wagner and bankrolled the composer for several years. Wesendonck’s wife, Mathilde, became enamoured of the composer. Though Wagner was working on his epic Der Ring des Nibelungen, he found himself intrigued by the legend of Tristan and Iseult.
The re-discovery of mediæval Germanic poetry, including Gottfried von Strassburg‘s version of Tristan, the Nibelungenlied and Wolfram von Eschenbach‘s Parzival, left a large impact on the German Romantic movements during the mid-19th century. The story of Tristan and Isolde is a quintessential romance of the Middle Ages and theRenaissance. Several versions of the story exist, the earliest dating to the middle of the 12th century. Gottfried’s version, part of the “courtly” branch of the legend, had a huge influence on later German literature.