"As a student in history I'm well familiar with the "everything-used-to-be-better" syndrome, and unfortunely it seems to me that all to many Wagnerians suffer from it. The recording now under our microscope is propably one of the best evidence avaliable of how very wrong this is. Surely there were great Wagnerians before but that doesn't mean that everything has gone down the drain! If you're curious in estimating this for yourself then this should be the set.The sound is excelent and dynamic. The awareness of the live circumstance's is great and the stagenoises can be heard very clear. Personally I favour live recordings that contane every sound of the performance, and I even like to hear the applause at the end (which is cut at the end here). So people who don't like anything but clean studio performances should go and look elsewhere!Barenboim is simply wonderfull. He has an enormuse power but never drowns the inner lines of the music nor overhvelms the singers (someone belove me thought that but I can't find that). He's a Wagnerian to kill for.I'd specially like to comment on John Tomlinson (Wotan): David Gottner (one of the reviewers on this set on this site) said that he has a "dry tone". I must protest and say that his voice is very rich and beautifull. I fact, he must be the star of this set! Tomlinson is very dominat on stage (I have seen him singing Hagen live at Bayreuth), powerfull and thick-voiced. He stands every comparison with Hotter, Morris or whom ever. He's currently my favorite Wotan on record.The other singers are all very good and I find Elming very pleasing, while Hölle is at the most fair but never on the level of Frick. On the whole the cast is very strong with no weak links.This set is superb and must obviously be leading among modern versions. The standard today is as high as ever!"
Recommending both the recording and the video
Z | USA | 11/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you consider Die Walkure as the Wotan drama, you've got to get this recording. Baronboim's conducting may be a bit sluggish in the first act, but he does carefully build up dramatic tension. He doesn't dominate and draw attention to the orchestra the way Solti and Karajan would. He supports the host of great singers foremost, and only releases the tension in between the singing...which is quite explosive at times. With his biting voice and excellent acting skill, John Tomlinson as Wotan dominates the stage and thrills the pants off anyone who views the performance on video. If you listen to Tomlinson in the two dialogues with Anne Evans/Brunnhilde, you would soon realize that this man has made Hotter/Wotan in Solti's recording sound like a toothless tenor! Just turn up the volume! You would know what I mean!One more word on the stage performance: go get a video of the Bayreuth performance. You can buy it, rent it, borrow it or steal it. JUST GET IT! The relationship and human characteristics of the Wagner characters have never been so fully realized on stage...Kudoes for producer Harry Kupfer."
A new Wagner tradtion rising
firstname.lastname@example.org | Gothenburg, Sweden | 06/11/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tradition is always important for music, composing as well as conducting. This recording starts what I would like to call a new tradition in Wagner conducting. The flow of Böhm and Karajan is combined with the power of Solti in a constellation never heard before. One of the most excellent recordings of the opera, of cause Anne Evans is not Birgit Nilsson, but she might be the new Birgit Nilsson, at least under Barenboim's baton. Poul Elming a powerful Siegmund, Nadine Secunde a brilliant Sieglinde, and of cause John Tomlinson's absolutely excellent Wotan. The new Wotan, in power and control in his dispair: 'Watch out Hans Hotter'. Barenboim makes the most out of the score, in a unconventional tempi, playing with a dynamic that makes the myth of past time enter your living room. Highly recommended. If you love Wagner, You can't live without this recording."
Truly superb Walkuere
M. Kelly | Hopetown, USA | 12/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the wake of the hugely more expensive Keilberth recording I would urge prospective buyers to consider this 1994 recording taken from Bayreuth. Tomlinson and Barenboim alone make this one worth buying: Tomlinson for his supremely penetrating, considered interpretation of Wotan, and Barenboim for creating a living and breathing atmosphere for the singers to be a part of. Dame Anne Evans sings with stunning purity, suggesting a warm and womanly figure, and yet with clean and penetrating tone, for all its natural beauty. Other cast members all excel: Poul Elming far superior to his counterparts on any other recent cycle, Nadine Secunde a sympathetic and dramatically convincing Sieglinde, and Matthias Hoelle yet another in the strong tradition of dark and rich German basses. I must also devote a special mention to the Fricka of Linda Finnie! Wonderfully and confidentally sung, her characterization is completely convincing, and provides a convincing foil for Tomlinson in the second act dialogue.
All in all, a wonderful achievement.
P.S. The sound is fantastic, too! "
Better as a soundtrack than as a performance
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone who has seen the DVD of this 1993 Bayreuth Die Walkure knows that it is stark and desperate, a modern post-apocalypse setting of unending grayness lowering over the action. Siegmund and Sieglinde never smile at each other, because after nuclear annihilation, the most they can hope for is lustful clutching. Wotan is frantic, throwing both Brunnhilde and Fricka to the ground in quasi-epileptic lurches of passion. At the time this was considered a harrowing breakthrough dramatically. Without judging whether the approach holds up or is true to Wagner's spirit, considerable light is shed on the singing here in the audio version.
Expect dry, nearly desperate expression without warmth or human connection. As everyone else points out, the singers aren't first-rate, even by our present diminished standards, but they give their all on stage, which makes up for a lot. Heard in isolation, no one except Tomlinson, a Wotan with real authority, comes close to filling the shoes of past singers. Secunde is good enough as Sieglinde, but Poul Elming has half the voice needed for Siegmund, and what he has tends to be edgy and nasal. Anne Evans is a physically striking Brunnhilde but doesn't match even Behrens for Levine, and she possessed barely half the needed voice in her own right.
For me the weak link, however, is Barenboim, and if I were to judge this Walkure by him alone, it would get two stars. He is maddeningly wayward in his tempo choices, often slowing down just when the drama calls for excitement, applying exaggerated ritards in his attempt to be Furtwangler, and generally leading a sluggish reading except for thse moments when he cuts everything loose and goes for frantic accelerandos. I know there are those who admire him, but I cannot join their number. Fortunatley, Die Walkure has been lucky on disc, and I can enjoy Karajan and Boulez to my heart's content, with occasional returns to Furtwangler and Keilberth.