Tristan und Isolde

Horst Stein
Choeur du Grand Théâtre de Genève
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
7 February 1985
Grand Théâtre Genève
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
TristanJan Blinkhof
IsoldeJanis Martin
BrangäneHanna Schwarz
KurwenalHermann Becht
König MarkeHans Tschammer
MelotImre Reményi
Ein junger SeemannPeter Maus
Ein HirtPeter Maus
SteuermannMarko Putkonen

The second part of the 1984-5 season at the GRAND THEATRE proceeded with Tristan und Isolde (first night January 30), which was dominated throughout by the playing of the Suisse Romande Orchestra. The transparency of texture and precise yet poetic sound quality gave such aural pleasure that it was tempting to listen to the three long acts with eyes closed. While the stage did not consistently conjure up the requisite magic, the pit most certainly did, with the players transfigured under Horst Stein’s baton.

Jan Blinkhof, singing the cruelly testing role of Tristan for the first time, does not yet have the vibrancy and strength of the true Heldentenor, but he fashioned an impressive dramatic interpretation whose climax was rightly reached in the third act, in which the monologue, sung almost without vibrato, took on a strange, other-worldly quality. Janis Martin’s Isolde was notable for clear, fresh timbre and musicianship. Perhaps her first-act Curse lacked the last inch of fire, and the two artists together in the Love Duet could not quite match the emotional intensity welling from the pit. The sensuous tone of Hanna Schwarz illumined the crucial role of Brangaene, and the rest of the cast met the demands of the score, with a King Mark of overwhelming spirituality from Hans Tschammer and a bold Kurwenal from Hermann Becht.

As for Jean-Claude Maret’s decor, the frail skiff of Act 1 would surely not have been able to withstand the storms of the Irish Sea, and the little pavilion in which Isolde entertained Tristan in Act 2 was even more questionable, but the scenery for the third act met the composer’s requirements efficiently enough. Mr Blinkhof was indisposed on the first night and Spas Wenkoff, his eleventh-hour replacement, managed to integrate himself into a cast that had been rehearsing under Francois Rochaix for a month and gave a remarkably fine performance.

ANDRE HUNZIKER | October 1985

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Fiori, HO
Technical Specifications
256 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 382 MByte (MP3)
Some bars missing due to tape turning.
A production by François Rochaix