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Günter von Kannen's Alberich starts out sounding rather fat and fruity, almost Falstaff-like, and gradually develops nastier up to his oath at the end of scene 1. He manages this development very well, but I thought he could have been a little more focused [listen -- CD1, track 8, 0:00-1:46]. He often relies on distorting his voice or using sprechstimme for emphasis rather than working through the voice.

As Wotan, John Tomlinson is incomparable. His voice and vocal projection are so vivid that whilst he is singing he makes you forget all other performers of the role; his diction too is exemplary. He sings Wagner's music in well-shaped paragraphs, taking the long view of the music. True his voice is rather grainy, but he manages to sing with a good line nonetheless. It is quite remarkable that he manages to heave his dark bass voice up to the upper reaches of Wotan's part. The effort is noticeable, but not distressing, and essentially becomes part of the character.

Tomlinson's Wotan is convincingly noble, he is truly believable; you would buy a used car from this man (and regret it later of course). This is part of Wotan's magic, his ability to convince of the rightness of his course of action.

As his wife, Fricka, Linda Finnie is rather soft edged and not as formidable as I would like. She does not seem to be quite the equal partner and it will be interesting to see how she develops in the crucial Act 2 scene in Die Walküre.

Graham Clark sings Loge with a brilliant, focussed voice giving him a wily, neurotic feel. Clark's voice has a very narrow focus and is quite tight, it is not always a completely grateful voice but it is highly characterful and Clark is very expressive. It helps that his diction is good and his vocal qualities help to make him sound like the ironic outsider that Loge is [listen -- CD1 track 13, 0:00-1:09].

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Copyright © 6 August 2005 Robert Hugill, Strasbourg, France


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