A full recital of Wagner arias from Bryn Terfel has been long-anticipated, and the star Welsh bass-baritone doesn't disappoint here.
A full recital of Wagner arias from Bryn Terfel has been long-anticipated, and the star Welsh bass-baritone doesn't disappoint here. In league with the very finest—the virtuosic Claudio Abbado and his Berlin Philharmonic—Terfel essays a line of Wagner's "failed heroes," from the Dutchman and Hans Sachs to Wolfram, Wotan, and Amfortas. Terfel fully embodies these symbols of male existential pain (flawed wanderers searching for the elusive grail of wholeness—that is, an ideal feminine love), singing with unusual richness, intelligence, and attention to dramatic detail. The orchestral accompaniment—which in Wagner is never merely accompaniment—moves with intensity, beginning with a scene-setting Overture to The Flying Dutchman. The highlight comes with two excerpts from Wagner's most luminous creation, Parsifal. The tragedy of this orchestra/vocal/theatrical wonder is on an epic, nearly religious scale, and Terfel voices the wounded arias of Amfortas with strength and inwardness, as Abbado and his Berliners provide him with a glorious halo of sound.—BB