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By the middle of this Act, I began to find Anne Evans' understated, well shaped but lower voltage Brünnhilde something of an acquired taste. It did not help that there was not enough differentiation of vocal timbre between Evans and Secunde; something that matters less when you can see the singers but is of great importance on recordings. The odd moments when the orchestra threatens to overwhelm Brünnhilde are not ideal either.

But as the Act draws to a close we are left with this recording's two greatest strengths, the orchestra under Barenboim and the Wotan of John Tomlinson. With Wotan's Farewell as moving and as powerful as this, you forgive Tomlinson the graininess of tone and hints of strain, the marvel is that he can sing so strongly yet still give the music a fine sense of line [listen -- CD6 track 12, 0:22-1:43].

By the end of Die Walküre we are starting to learn the colour and nature of the Ring to which we are listening. Wagner has started developing the philosophical concerns which will be played out in the cycle's closing pages and we have been introduced to more of its leading protagonists.

Barenboim's Ring continues to be a gloriously recorded, richly detailed orchestral experience. But, despite the presence of some fine singing actors, there are occasions when you suspect that the singers are of less concern to him than the orchestral details. This pays rich dividends, however, in the purely orchestral closing pages of this opera as Wotan invokes Loge and the magic fire music surrounds Brünnhilde's rock with flame. She leaves us to await her re-awakening at the end of the next instalment of the cycle, Siegfried, and to wonder how the singer of the title role will cope with Wagner's outrageous demands.

Continue to 'Siegfried' >>

Copyright © 7 August 2005 Robert Hugill, Strasbourg, France


Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Die Walküre

2564 62091-2 DDD Stereo REISSUE (14 CDs) 74'51"/ 74'18"/ 65'54"/ 49'13"/ 45'09"/ 75'52"/ 77'44"/ 42'54"/ 51'08"/ 68'23"/ 54'03"/ 69'45"/ 66'29"/ 76'56"/ 59'00" - TT 15h51'39" 1993,1994 Teldec Classics, 2005 Warner Classics

John Tomlinson, Wotan; Bodo Brinkmann, Donner; Kurt Schreibmayer, Froh; Graham Clark, Loge; Linda Finnie, Fricka; Eva Johansson, Freia; Birgitta Svendén, Erda; Günter von Kannen, Alberich; Helmut Pampuch, Mime; Matthias Hölle, Fasolt; Philip Kang, Fafner; Hilde Leidland, Woglinde; Annette Küttenbaum, Wellgunde; Jane Turner, Flosshilde; Poul Elming, Siegmund; Matthias Hölle, Hunding; Nadine Secunde, Sieglinde; Anne Evans, Brünnhilde; Linda Finnie, Siegrune; Eva Johansson, Gerhilde; Ruth Floeren, Ortlinde; Shirley Close, Waltraute; Hitomi Katagiri, Schwertleite; Eva-Maria Bundschuh, Helmwige; Birgitta Svendén, Grimgerde; Hebe Dijkstra, Rossweisse; Siegfried Jerusalem, Siegfried; Graham Clark, Mime; John Tomlinson, Der Wanderer; Hilde Leidland, Waldvogel; Bodo Brinkmann, Gunther; Philip Kang, Hagen; Eva-Maria Bundschuh, Gutrune; Waltraud Meier, Waltraute; Birgitta Svendén, Erste Norn; Linda Finnie, Zweite Norn; Uta Priew, Dritte Norn; Hilde Leidland, Woglinde; Annette Küttenbaum, Wellgunde; Jane Turner, Flosshilde; Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele; Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Richard Wagner (1813-1883): Das Rheingold (1876); Die Walküre (1851-6); Siegfried (1851-71); Götterdämmerung (1848-74)





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