From the Contributor
One of the titles in our catalogue Ilike best is Glyndebourne's production of Tristan und Isolde, because it is so solemnly beautiful, evocative and meditative. Some people might interpret it as 'static' but I love how stage director Nikolaus Lehnhoff approaches Wagner's psycho-erotic masterpiece with a deep emotional and philosophical insight that matches the intense performance of the soloists, and conductor Jirí Belohlavek's remarkable exposure of depths in the score that I have never experienced before.
Their combined efforts and Roland Aeschlimann's universal set design call up classical Greek drama for me, a 'space-time-womb' resembling an amphitheatre. Physical gestures are minimal but not overly stylised, and each movement of a hand, or the turn of a head speaks volumes, as the related emotion floats up from the brilliant orchestra. I think it is a tremendously clever as well as moving achievement, focussing on the deep emotions as pure feelings, and not as predictable bodily or theatrical expressions, which, for me, can quite easily turn into pastiche. Nina Stemme is a beautiful Isolde, in turn fragile and furious, and Robert Gambill's Tristan is superbly lyrical and distant, as if he does not belong in this world. I also love the extra feature in which professor Trimborn gives a personal and direct 'lecture' from the piano on the musicological & philosophical backgrounds of Tristan und Isolde; emphasising the Buddhistic depths and the ideals of 'detachment', explaining why true, untainted earthly love is impossible. All in all, this disc set offers a deeply overwhelming experience every time I watch it.