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Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Parsifal Ein Bühnenweihfestspiel
Parsifal: Hans-Peter Ringmann (tenor)
Kundry: Grazia Plena (sop)
Gurnemanz: Max Brute (bass)
Amfortas: Alain Seraillier (bar)
Klingsor: Ron Palermo (c-tenor)
Titurel: Artur Pnimm (bass)
Chorus and Orchestra of Universal Opera,
Conductor: Mikko Hiirenloukku
Recorded live at Glastonbury, 25th March 2005.
UNIVERSAL OPERA DVD UNO 2503 Two discs [277' 45"]

Because of what some might call indecent haste by the production company (who requested that Music Web should review these discs urgently) I have had less than two days to consider this recording. A full review of the performance from which it was made however, can be found in Seen and Heard which allows me to concentrate on the set's technical aspects.

The first thing to say about these discs (following the BBC's fiasco with Die Walküre on Monday) is that it is very pleasant indeed to find a government funded organisation getting something right for once, because the entire recording is marvellous. The picture quality is excellent throughout and is matched by sound which is comparable to the very best DVD Audio recordings in my opinion. All in all (and appropriately too, considering the subject matter) the Holy Grail of the hi-fi buff, the true replication of a live performance, is so fully realised here that this is a recording to treasure, even by confirmed non-Wagnerites. White goods stores and hi-fi shops alike should buy it as a demonstrator; their equipment sales would rocket as a result.

The discs are packed with bonus information. There are interviews with the performers and with the director and her assistant set designers, all of which are extremely helpful in explaining the production's values and intentions. It is to be hoped that other recording companies will follow this trend since it beats the socks off the minimalist booklet notes included with many opera DVDs these days.

The set's biggest asset by far though, is the inclusion of subtitles in a veritable babel of languages. I had great fun playing with this feature and it helped my Bulgarian no end. Thoroughly recommended.

Bill Kenny



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