The Wagnerian Caption Competition 1 (redux) Knappertsbusch, Tristan und Isolde

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 5 August 2012 | 10:07:00 pm

Ok, I have a little confession to make: The first Caption Competition went a little wrong as I somehow managed to lose most of the entries! But not this time. After careful consideration I have devised a foolproof (hopefully) method of keeping track of them. And even better, I have uploaded a freshly purchased copy of the prize to "DropBox" for the lucky winner to collect (MP3 I am afraid)

But first, the competition: In "celebration" of the the final appearance of Christoph Marthaler's Tristan at Bayreuth one lucky reader will win themselves,  what sounds like, a half decent transfer (well it cost enough considering you can pick this up for peanuts) of Hans Knappertsbusch's, somewhat legendary,  Tristan und Isolde from 1950 - details below

To enter, simply come-up with a witty (hopefully) or failing that any caption for the still from Marthaler's Tristan below. Then send us your answer, either in a tweet, a Facebook comment in reply to this or via email with the following conditions:

1 If replying via twitter use the hash tag freeknapp
2 If by email the subject freeknapp
3 If by Facebook start your comment freeknapp (and it must be in reply to this post)

Image to caption below.Closing date 12/8/12.

Robert Dean Smith and Iréne Theorin as Tristan and Isolde

Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Hans Knappertsbusch, Paul Kuen, Helena Braun, Margarete Klose, Paul Schoffler, Gunther Treptow, Chor Der Bayerischen Staatsoper, Herbert Erlenwein
From Alan Blyth's  survey of the great Tristan und Isolde recordings for Gramophone (1995)

Historic performances Hans Knappertsbusch at Munich in 1950 is even more engrossing - at least as far as he and his Isolde are concerned. The great conductor's impulsive reading, one concerned with narrative values and a total overview of the opera, is paradoxically at once a grand, metaphysical reading yet one that can offer the utmost refinement of detail. It is spontaneous, sometimes dangerously so, in the way tempos and markings are read, yet so convincing are the results that the spirit triumphs over the letter, nowhere more so than in Isolde's Narration. Surpassing even Mödl, Helena Braun here manages a kind of conversational, almost Sprechgesang style, making every word tell as would a Lieder singer. That makes her the most inward and very often the most eloquent of all Isoldes (apart perhaps from Buchner, see below) - listen to "Zu schweigen hat ich gelernt" in the Narration, at once ironic, sad, bittersweet, or, at the start of Act 2, to "Nicht ihres Zaubers Macht", or to all of her Act 3 Lament, so intense, impassioned at a slow speed, tearing at one's emotions. Throughout, vibrato and portamento, such useful means of expression, are used to overwhelming effect. That consoles us for a voice that can go out of focus under pressure, so that climaxes are not this Isolde's happiest moments.
Treptow, as Tristan, is disciplined and plaintive, building the role to its Act 3 hallucinations - his Vision is perhaps the most tenderly sung of all - and he boasts a true Heldentenor timbre. Moments when he loses concentration are forgiven for the eloquence of the whole. Klose, such a rounded Brangiine in 1943 (see below), has become blowzy, too much the tragedy queen. Schoeffler is a good, reliable Kurwenal, Frantz a below par Marke. The recording is variable, occasionally distorting, wanting warmth, but the performance grips from start to finish and cannot be ignored by anyone needing to know about the essence of the work. It is an indispensable document of operatic history.
The full survey can be found here