Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tristan Love Duet (Traubel-Ralf, 1947)

Helen Traubel and Torsten Ralf
(as pictured in the liner notes for the present set)
For the end of 2014, a little Wagnerian treat featuring that great exponent of the master's soprano roles, St. Louis-born Helen Traubel (1899-1972), along with the Swedish tenor Torsten Ralf (1901-1954), whose birthday, incidentally, is next Friday (Jan. 2).  This is the duet from Act II, Scene 2 of "Tristan und Isolde" - actually a trio, because it's interrupted at two points by Brangäne, Isolde's maid, offstage, but her music is often either omitted from concert performances of the duet, or sung by the soprano taking Isolde's role (as Kirsten Flagstad did in her 1939 studio recording with Lauritz Melchior).  This recording appears to be the only one made during the 78-rpm era with a third singer taking her rightful lines - the Vienna-born Herta Glaz (1910-2006):

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde - Love Duet
Helen Traubel, soprano (Isolde)
Torsten Ralf, tenor (Tristan)
Herta Glaz, contralto (Brangäne)
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra conducted by Fritz Busch
Recorded March 16, 1947, in the Metropolitan Opera House, New York
Columbia Masterworks MX-286, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 49.90 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 33.00 MB)

My thanks to Adam Schweigert for sending me this set and several others as a result of discussions originating in the comments section to this post.  And my thanks to Peter Joelson for his restoration work on the cover image, another beautiful Steinweiss design:

My best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015!


  1. Thanks Bryan for this beautiful version, and the fantastic cover too ! Happy New Year , BONNE ANNEE 2015 !!!!

  2. I adore Helen Traubel! Thanks. I used to have this set.