REVIEWS

WAGNER: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE

MARCH 18, 2021 

Tristan und Isolde was performed in concert under the aegis of the Claude Heater Foundation of San Francisco at the Penderecki Cultural Center in Poland with the forces noted above. And what a performance!

In this instance, Tristan und Isolde was performed in concert under the aegis of the Claude Heater Foundation of San Francisco at the Penderecki Cultural Center in Poland with the forces noted above. And what a performance!

The result is this audio recording with young singers, largely unknown, and a wonderful orchestra from the nearby Czech Republic enthusiastically and passionately conducted by Robert Reimer, an up-and-coming young German conductor, well known and already very successful in Europe.

Tristan was sung by American heldentenor Roy Cornelius Smith with amazing vocal power and total emotional involvement shaping the difficult, strenuous role.

Isolde is a big surprise: largely unknown Korean dramatic soprano Juyeon Song, a petite figure but what a voice! A vocal powerhouse with secure high notes; a strong and passionate Isolde. Just listen to her angry outbursts of indignation in the first act, the impatient longing when awaiting Tristan for their secret tryst, the sheer ecstasy of their first embrace and that wonderful love duet with waves of passion that never wants to end!

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE CD RELEASE ON NOVEMBER 2020

This CD is submitted to Grammy Award 2021.

WAGNER: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE 2020

The conducting is clearly first-rate, tending towards the brisk and exciting side (á la Reiner, Knappertsbusch, Böhm and Barenboim) rather than towards the warmer, more amorphous sound achieved by Furtwängler, but since I like this approach I have no qualms. Our Steersman, Siarhei Zubkevich, has a firm voice and no problems, but our intrepid Isolde, Juyeon Song, has a very bright, almost metallic top range and, in the early part of Act I, a somewhat uneven flutter, but both come under control by Track 5. Tamara Gallo as Brangäne has an uncontrolled wobble early on.

RICHARD WAGNER

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE 2020

When an American independent label launches a recording of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, one might raise the eyebrows as a sign of scepticism. An opera that hardly any opera house can cast satisfactorily, with an orchestra that has hardly any Wagner experience, a petite Korean woman as Isolde and an American Tristan who sang the role for the first time in 2018? But it doesn’t take long, once the recording is started, for scepticism to turn into amazement, all the more so as this is a live recording.

PIZZICATO 2020 CD REVIEW

The American tenor Roy Cornelius Smith is a very sovereign Tristan, who sings vocally so confidently and effortlessly that he can fully concentrate on the interpretation of the role. He loves passionately and dies feverishly, with secure and extraordinarily brilliant top notes and a lot of emotion.

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE 2020

The Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra stuns with a new recording of Tristan, conducted by Robert Reimer

The International Association of Richard Wagner Societies

Modern-day Wagnerians will be happy to hear that conductor Robert Reimer and the Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra have a more favorable opinion of Wagner, performing the volatile composer's opera with great verve and conviction. It's a splendid pairing to be sure: a much sought-after conductor familiar with orchestras all across Europe, and a wonderful ensemble to do his bidding. This arrangement works to the favor of everyone involved.

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE VIENNA OPERA BLOG 2019

Roy Cornelius Smith (Tristan) is a remarkable Heldentenor who doesn't have to screech or shriek to dominate a large orchestra. He moves comfortably throughout his ample range. He sang in good balance with his Isolde (Juyeon Song) who is rapidly becoming "the" Isolde of today.

NABUCCO 2019

Nabucco in the Temple Conquers Babylonians and Opera Fans

Following the fearless beginning of the organization’s life with Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, Foundation Executive Director Juyeon Song produced the opera about ancient Babylonians and Hebrews in a temple — likely to be the first such event in Nabucco’s 178-year history — advertised as “opera with a tale of Jewish people presented in a Jewish temple.”

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE 2019

Remarkable Tristan Recording

Pizzicato - Remy Franck's Journal about Classical Music

The conductor Robert Reimer can undoubtedly take a larger share of this great success. Thanks to his suggestive conducting, the music is powerfully engaging during three and a half hours. With a good dynamic control, many nuances in the colours and an excellent balance, the conductor achieves a lot, but also shows how much he can influence the orchestra, how strong the power of his charisma is on the musicians.

Juyeon Song’s Isolde is no less good: her voice may be a little tight and lack the usual timbre qualities for the role, but she is a highly dramatic singer who is completely absorbed in her role and sings a strong, passionate Isolde. You really wonder where this petite singer gets the strength to sing the demanding role with such great vocal power and expressivity.

Song’s & Reimer’s Excellent “Tristan”

The Art & Music Loundge - Lynn Bayley

The conducting is clearly first-rate, tending towards the brisk and exciting side (á la Reiner, Knappertsbusch, Böhm and Barenboim) rather than towards the warmer, more amorphous sound achieved by Furtwängler, but since I like this approach I have no qualms.

Song achieves something that NO other Isolde I’ve ever heard does. She sounds frantic, a little unhinged, on the verge of a nervous breakdown—wholly appropriate to this scene, but as I said, no other Isolde sounds like this. 

Song actually interprets the words of the “Liebestod,” once again something I’ve rarely heard in the past.

Tristan und Isolde Vienna Opera Blog

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE 2018

One of the great musical surprises of the year was a concert performance of Wagner’s masterpiece of forbidden love, given Aug. 26 in Herbst Theatre. This is a piece that can challenge even established opera companies, and to hear it done this well by representatives of the Claude Heater Foundation – with soprano Juyeon Song and tenor Roy Cornelius Smith in the title roles led by conductor Jonathan Khuner – defied reasonable expectations.

Out of nowhere, an excellent ‘Tristan’ pops up in San Francisco

Operatic Startup Delights With a Splendid Tristan