Most music majors will, at some point, find themselves studying Wagner’s monumental opera Tristan und Isolde. I happen to be a big fan of the German Romantic composers such as Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, and Wagner.
There are numerous recordings of this opera, but I really love the 1952 rendition, with the Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler. I’ve been listening to this recording for the past few months, and it’s really a beautiful delivery of the composition.
When I was earning my BFA in music, my music history professor spent a month discussing the fine points of Wagner’s operas including The Ring. I was enthralled when we discussed Tristan und Isolde and found it very interesting from both a technical and artistic standpoint. The first staging of the opera was in Paris. It had been rehearsed extensively in preparation for a premiere in Vienna, but deemed “unperformable” in that location. It’s worth noting that the first performer in the title role, Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfield, died after his fourth performance, enhancing the reputation of the opera as being intensely demanding and stressful.
This is beautiful and difficult piece of music. It’s worth reading the liner notes, and the well-written Wikipedia article on it. I’d strongly recommend this recording in particular, as it captures both the beauty and the tension of Wagner’s vision.