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Marek Janowski’s live concert recordings of Wagner show him to be an eminently sane conductor; nothing is forced or exaggerated, the tempi flow naturally, the pace is generally assured. As a listener, you know you are in safe hands. Tannhäuser is excellently played by the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and its chorus is superb. The soloists are more of a mixed bag. Robert Dean Smith has the stamina for the arduous title role, still going strong for the Act III Narration, but his tone is often unattractive and his interpretation generic. Nina Stemme’s Elisabeth is certainly no milksop, yet her voice has moved so far from Jugendlich-dramatischer Sopran to full dramatic that at times she sounds positively alarming. Christian Gerhaher’s Wolfram is a model of elegance and Marina Prudenskaya’s tangy mezzo suits Venus. Albert Dohmen’s Landgraf moves from baritone to bass with little distinction. A strong supporting cast and excellent sound are positives.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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