"Schirmt mich, ihr Madchen, mit machtigstem Schutz!"
Eric S. Kim | Southern California | 09/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Picking up where Das Rheingold left off, we have Die Walkure: conducted by Sir Georg Solti and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. This Walkure isn't as grand as it turned out to be. There are better recordings like Bohm and Goodall and Janowski. But on to the review:
Solti's usual bombast is less prevalent here than in Siegfred and Gotterdammerung, probably because Walkure was recorded last and Solti went for a more lyrical approach. But that doesn't mean Ride of the Valkyries is void of power; it still has lots of power. The orchestral tension between the characters works well here. "Wotan's Farewell" is played too fast, but the grandiose "Magic Fire Music" makes up for it.
Singers are absolutely a plus. Hotter is past his prime as Wotan, but I still can't see anyone else performing as the Ruler of the Gods here in the Solti Ring. James King and Regine Crespine are wonderful as Siegmund and Sieglinde. Christa Ludwig as Fricka is a spectacle for the ears. Gottlob Frick is a very sinister Hunding, and I like that. The Valkyries will certainly leave you speechless when you're finished hearing Act One Scene One.
In short, this Walkure isn't as good as other Walkures, but you'll be touched by the orchestra and the singers.
We continue on to Siegfried . . .
Das Rheingold: Das Rheingold
Box Set: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen (Ring Cycle) / Sir Georg Solti"
A Golden Die Walkure
J. H. Gaulard | 02/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cast: James King [Siegmund] Régine Crespin [Sieglinde] ** Gottlieb Frick [Hunding] ** Hans Hotter [Wotan] ** Christa Ludwig[Fricka] ** Birgit Nilsson [Brünnhilde] Brigitte Fassbaender [Waltraute] ** Helen Watts [Schwertleite] ** Helga Dernesch [Ortlinde] ... Vienna Philharmonic ** Sir Georg Solti
This is perhaps the most beautifully rendered Die Walkure, with a fine balance of dramatic elements and dreamy, romantic music, as played by the unbeatable Vienna Philharmonic and conducted by George Solti at the height of his powers. From the start, the orchestra is playing as if the strings were ablaze with fire, and the passionate moments between Siegmund and Sieglende and the touching father and daughter (Wotan and Brunhilde) moments at the end are lovingly captured. The music is the clear winner here, even if I personally think that Regine Crespin is miscast. Here's why: Compared to the mid 60's Karl Bohm recording which featured Leonie Rysanek as Sieglende, Regine Crespin is totally underpowered in her interpretation. The voice is beautiful, yes, and she produces the most lush and elegant tones, but it is a very uninteresting Sieglende, lacking passion and vigor. Regine Crespin is singing a role that is really out of her vocal range. Rysanek, on the other hand, has a bigger, more dramatic voice and even screams that famous scream during the Love Duet. The Love Duet sung by James King and Regine Crespin on here is too mellow and romantic, as if it were the Love Duet in Tristan And Isolde. As for James King's Siegmund, his is a truly wonderful performance. He mastered Wagner heroic roles like he could sing it in his sleep or in the shower. His is a big, beautiful and blazing, God-like tenor voice and he gets into the character quite well. Siegmund's passion for his sister Sieglende, his search for meaning in a world of dark forces is all captured in the performance by James King, who makes each of his Wagner roles like some tragic Romantic hero. Kudos to James King, the greatest Wagner tenor of the 20th century.
The Wotan of Hans Hotter is sung well, with excellent diction and keen musicality for being Wagner, but Hans Hotter is also underpowered next to the likes of Theo Adam on the Karl Bohm recording. Not that I'm saying that the Bohm recording is superior to this one (that's always a matter of personal taste). Theo Adam managed to really sound like the powerful king of the gods and a loving father at the same time. His is a much more exciting baritone voice. Hotter sings Wotan octaves lower and with a darker voice, almost as if Wotan is the villain in this opera. Wotan's "wife" the goddess Fricka, goddess of marriage, is sung by mezzo soprano star Christa Ludwig, in glorious vocal shape and dramatic acting abilities. She is regal, sinister and furious!! Her finest moments come after Brunhilde's Entrance when she denounces the love of Siegmund and Siegried as adulterous and shameful. Christa Ludwig has never sung better, all her other roles are far more subdued vocally than this one which draws out all her powers.
With Birgit Nilsson as Brunhilde, one can never go wrong. She mastered the role better than any other soprano in the Sixties, having sung the role in Bayreuth, the Met, and all the major opera houses. This was her signature role and it's hard to imagine a grander voice and a more dramatic one. Her high soprano voice, full of heroic outbursts, steel and ice, is perfect for the otherworldly Valkyrie, even if some detractors think La Brigit sang with too much calculation and sounded too "cold" or "Nordic". As I recall, the Nibelungen Saga is straight of Norse sagas and therefore Birgit Nilsson, who hailed from Sweden, completely understood the nature of Wagner's music, and the value of the story of the opera as a part of her heritage. With the Vienna Phil loudly playing behind her, Nilsson shines in the famous Ride of the Valkyries scene. Others in the cast include a young Brigitte Fassbaender, the mezzo soprano who would garner greater fame later in her career. Brigitte Fassbaender sings the minor role of Waltraute but she sings it with great strength and beauty. Helga Dernesch sings the part of Ortlinde, another minor role, and she is doing a fine job with it- darklybeautiful, powerful, noble. It's rather odd that Miss Dernesch is singing such an uninteresting role when she was fast becoming a great Wagnerian soprano herself. Everyone knows her voice from the classic Tristan Und Isolde recording with Jon Vickers and Herbert Von Karajan conducting.
All in all, this is a beatiful and strong performance of Die Walkure, thanks to 1: Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic 2: James King's amazing Siegmund...3: Birgit Nilsson's thunderous Brunhilde ... and 4: Christa Ludwig's cruel and queenly Fricka. Any fan of Solti and his version of the Ring will want to own this recording. Ultimately, the musical forces behind this recording is the draw. The singing is beautiful but is not captured in its "natural" essence as the recording makes the whole work a huge, colorful fantasy. But many, many listeners prefer this type of operatic style.