Wagner: Parsifal

Reviewed on Wed 26 Jul, 2017

The recorded sound doesn’t help, but it also doesn’t explain (or excuse) vocal performances that lack definition, too often struggling for effect or adopting altogether curious characterisations.

Sir Mark Elder’s Parsifal with the Hallé Orchestra at the 2013 BBC Proms was enthusiastically reviewed at the time but something has been lost in its belated transfer to disc. The recorded sound doesn’t help, but it also doesn’t explain (or excuse) vocal performances that lack definition, too often struggling for effect or adopting altogether curious characterisations. Sir John Tomlinson’s Gurnemanz (a last-minute change) is a shadow of this once great Wagnerian. The intensity of dramatic intention is there but the rest is stretched perilously thin by the demands of the role. Lars Cleveman’s uninspiring Parsifal is even more problematic, while Katarina Dalayman’s Kundry, though certainly more vocally secure, is still tonally uneven. The over-compensating Amfortas and Klingsor of Detlef Roth and Tom Fox are both unsatisfying. The set’s sole recommendation is the partnership between Elder’s conducting (although some might find its pacing on the slow side) and the Hallé’s rich and often luminous playing. In a word: disappointing.
–Michael Quinn