Georg Solti
Wiener Staatsopernchor, Wiener Sängerknaben
Wiener Philharmoniker
7 – 17 December 1971
15 – 25 March 1972
Sofiensaal Wien
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
AmfortasDietrich Fischer-Dieskau
TiturelHans Hotter
GurnemanzGottlob Frick
ParsifalRené Kollo
KlingsorZoltán Kelemen
KundryChrista Ludwig
GralsritterRobert Tear
Herbert Lackner

Of all the celebrated recordings of Parsifal this 1972 Solti version must boast the most distinguished cast – all delivering fine expressive and technically polished performances; the principals especially well controlled in their long paragraphs. The playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is glorious. This new reissue using Decca’s state-of-the-art technology (“Remastered from the original tapes using the latest 96Hz 24-bit Super Digital Transfer and state-of-the-art noise reduction techniques”), sounds ravishing particularly in the grand set pieces such as the glorious Act I celebration of the Grail and the concluding redemption scene.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau captures Amfortas’s anguished impotence, and his defiance exceedingly well. René Kollo as the innocent fool, the redeemer, Parsifal, once again proves himself to be the ideal noble Wagnerian hero. Christa Ludwig is a vibrant, and corruptly sensual Kundry in her attempts to seduce Parsifal, in Klingsor’s garden – first in motherly, then more voluptuous, tones. Gottlob Frick as Gurnemanz, whose role is to relate so much of the historical narrative is steadily noble and dignified. Zoltan Kélémen is a sinister and malevolent Klingsor. It is interesting to note as Klingsor’s flower maidens so many up-and-coming voices who would later distinguish themselves including Anne Howells, Kiri Te Kanawa, Gillian Knight and Lucia Popp.

In its day this recording was criticised for a certain lack of a rapt, spiritual quality. The refurbished sound goes some way to addressing this but Solti’s rather deliberate way with the music does tend to keep it somewhat earthbound. Therefore, despite the glorious singing, I have to say for an overwhelming musical and spiritual experience, I prefer Karajan’s intensely beautiful 1979/80 DG recording.

This new refurbishment of an acclaimed star-studded version of Wagner’s last opera sounds glorious and, for me, is only eclipsed by the DG recording.

Ian Lace

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Decca, London
Technical Specifications
553 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 1.0 GByte (flac)
2.5 Mbit/s VBR, 96.0 kHz, 4.5 GByte (flac 24-96)