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In the second scene of the opera, I did rather find I could easily become confused between voices as both Tomlinson and Philip Kang, playing Fafner, have similar quality voices. Here, of course, we run into the problem that operas cast for the stage do not always lend themselves to perfect recordings. If this had been a studio recording, we would have had a Fafner with a different vocal quality. This is not to deny the excellence, and vividness of both Kang's Fafner and Matthias Hölle's Fasolt.

The same problem occurs in the Nibelheim scene, as both Clark and Helmut Pampuch's Mime have similar voices. This is understandable as Clark goes on to sing Mime in Siegfried.

Pampuch makes a suitably whining Mime in this scene, though Alberich does not always sound malevolent enough and he often rather overcompensates [listen -- CD1 track 19, 0:06-1:22]. This is where Tomlinson's Wotan's apparent trustworthiness comes into play as he and Clark wonderfully trick Alberich [listen -- CD2 track 11, 0:00-1:15].

Birgitta Svenden makes an impressive Erda, singing with a well controlled, firm voice; eminently the voice of Mother Earth.

The final scene comes over vividly, well controlled by Barenboim and makes a fitting climax to this fine prelude to the Ring [listen -- CD2 track 23, 2:08-3:25]. But Barenboim's Das Rheingold isn't just well modulated and well controlled. It is dramatic too, and this pays immense dividends in the orchestral interludes. Barenboim keeps the drama moving even when the singers are not present. This means that we understand that something is happening dramatically during these orchestral interstices.

Das Rheingold is only the start of the Ring but this performance makes you keen to hear the subsequent operas.

Continue to 'Die Walküre' >>

Copyright © 6 August 2005 Robert Hugill, Strasbourg, France


Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Das Rheingold

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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