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Wagner: Die Walküre
Richard [Classical] Wagner, Karl Böhm, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Wagner: Die Walküre
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #4


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CD Details

All Artists: Richard [Classical] Wagner, Karl Böhm, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Annelies Burmeister, Birgit Nilsson, Danica Mastilovic, Elisabeth Schartel, Gerd Nienstedt, Gertraud Hopf, Helga Dernesch, James King, Leonie Rysanek, Liane Synek, Sieglinde Wagner, Sona Cervena, Theo Adam
Title: Wagner: Die Walküre
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Philips
Original Release Date: 1/1/1967
Re-Release Date: 1/15/2002
Album Type: Box set, Live, Original recording remastered
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 4
SwapaCD Credits: 4
UPC: 028946475126

CD Reviews

Bohm conducts the best stereo recording available
Erik Aleksander Moe | Oslo, Norway | 02/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a performance to enchant you and excite you for years to come. There are other good stereo recordings of this much loved opera. Among them are the Solti, Karajan, Leinsdorf. Even with this competition, this one conducted by Karl Bohm is still very clearly a favorite with both critics and opera lovers. There are some that say it is going too fast or that the orchestra is not as good as either the Vienna or the Berlin Philharmonic. The latter may be true, but what Bohm brings to the performance is something that the other conductors clearly don't. He brings drama, reality, wonder. As for the performance being too fast. When listening to it (and I have over 20 different recordings of the opera) I don't think that is it too fast. Many of the older performances are done quite a bit faster, most notably Leinsdorf's 1940 and Fritz Stiedry's 1949 Met performances. I found those too fast many times. Bohm, I think, is not too fast at any point in the opera.
Now for the singers. Birgit Nilsson, who sang on the Solti performance, is dramatically and musically better here. Throughout the 2nd and 3rd acts she is dominating. When confronting Wotan in the 3rd act, she is noble and pleading comming to stupendous end when begging her father to surround her and the mountain with fire. Theo Adam's Wotan is really very good. Solti has Hans Hotter which is way past his prime and it gets to be a little painful to listen to if you heard him in the 50s. Adam is his successor, and although I don't think that Adam ever brought the same insight and characterization. Nonetheless is Adam very good.

We then come to the two siblings. James King, who also sings for Solti, is much more dramatically correct as Siegmund. On the Solti recording he was a quite boring to listen to sometimes. It may be that the excitement of a live performance improved on the acting. He is secure, tender, powerful throughout the taxing 1st act and in his encounter with Brunnhilde. I must admit that I didn't like Leonie Rysanek's Sieglinde first time I heard her, but I must say now that it is one of the definitive interpretations in modern times. It is glorious from start to finish.

Annelies Burmeister is also very good as Fricka. Gerd Nienstedt's Hunding is good, but I prefer Gottlob Frick who sang for Solti.

The sound quality is excellent. I wish only that more orchetral details would come through. The set contains an interesting essay and a complete libretto with translation to English. Now that it has been released in mid-price and a newly remarstered sound, it is more recommended than ever"
Simply Excellent
BDSinC | Calgary, Alberta, Canada | 12/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have to admit that I am first and foremost a super fan of the Solti recording that includes all the "sound affects" that Wagner wrote into his score (which won't be evident in any of this series). However, I have to say, I was super struck with this recording. Die Walkure is the most popular opera of the Ring operas, and one will find it often performed by itself with no hope of seeing the rest of the Ring Cycle at all. That is understandable (though my personal favorite is Gotterdammerung). I find the Siegmund/Brunhilde scene DRAGS even in performance for like most of Wagner, there is usually nothing happening at all while hours of "talking about everything" goes on. Some claim this version is conducted too fast, and I have to say, that is something I definitely don't agree with at all. It moves with a good pace, and those very dull moments during the Brunhilde/Siegmund scene actually seem to fall aside. For once I wasn't restless during it hoping it would pass soon. I find the same feeling comes over me when Brunhilde and Wotan are together in their scene in Act 2. We have just seen the confrontation between Wotan and Fricka, which has some real bite to it (not to mention the act begins with the exciting war cry), then we have Wotan explain everything to Brunhilde we have just watched the night before in Das Rhinegold. Perhaps his explanation is necessary for her (but being his favorite daughter, one would think she was well versed in the history of things and Wotan's reasonings about everything long ago) but it is a miscalculation Wagner does repeatedly in this cycle (the entire Norns scene in Gotterdammerung does the exact same thing all over again, as will the scene with Waltraute and Brunhilde later in the opera, though here some extra information is added; by now the audience is more than familiar with the story). Those moments can often really drag out, even in performance, to the point one hopes they end soon and we get on with things. Solti did resolve a lot of that, but even his great recordings can become dull in those rather dull moments. Personally, I think the tempo works in the favor of the audience and the affectiveness of both these mentioned scenes. The natural tendency for them to drag is removed a great deal, but none of the emotional impact or intensity is destroyed.

I find that the singers are very good, and since we hear many of them in Solti's ring we are able to compare them. King is far superior in this recording, and he brings far more feeling to his role of Siegmund. Nelsson is wonderful, but I think in this recording her voice has more "presence" and more clarity. One actually almost thinks they hear the trill in her war cry that begins act 2, but I say almost, for it is an illusion caused because of the trilling of the orchestra. I find Adam very good as Wotan, and he is completely convincing in the final scene with Brunhilde. What I miss with him, and this is once again the added touches Wagner asks for in the score, and that is to hear his spear crashing on the rocks as he calls forth Loge, which doesn't happen (just as in Siegfried, in this Ring series we never hear the sword break the anvil, which does add tremendously to the closing of that act in that opera, and in that case, the conductor isn't even careful enough to make sure all the cymbol crashing is sharp enough to give such an affect as one hears in some recordings; the affect is completely lost).

I have to admit, it has always taken me a long time to warm up to Leonie Rysanek as a singer. As Sieglinde, I much prefer Jessye Norman, but we are given this singer (Rysanek) in this recording as she sings in the Solti recording. I have come to conclude she is a wonderful Sieglinde, and does justice to the role. Yes, her high notes are strong and very focused, and she is never under "pressure" when producing them. The thing with Sieglinde is she is not that highly written. The part lies mostly within the staff and during some of the most important moments at the lower part of it, or below it. That is where I find the weakness in her performance, for she just isn't "there" in those sections. The voice even seems "drowning" in its fight over the orchestra. Yet, once the vocal line takes her to the C above middle C her voice opens up and we are hearing a voice that carries super well. Overall, though, her performance is exceptional, and I have grown to love it.

What I find odd about these recordings is they were recorded LIVE at the Bayreuth Festival, yet at no time do we hear even the slightest indication of the audience, not even a cough! (how ever did they manage to get such quiet people into the theatre, for it seems no matter where you go, someone HAS TO COUGH). Occasionally one gets a sense something is happening on stage, but no real stage noises like on some recordings. And the most obviously glaring things missing is the appause at the end of each act, or at least at the end of the opera if it was performed with no breaks. That may have been more a reflection of the times where good stereo live performances were made to appear like studio releases (all because buyers though all life performances were, well, noisy and very flawed), however, for me, when things are live, I want to hear the audience reaction. I know that during the actual acts there will NEVER be any clapping or reaction, especiallly at the "sacred Wagner temple", but when things end, people do clap there, and one gets the sense of whether the performance was meaningful to those who heard it (especially when there is a moment of silence before the uproar beings; the feeling is electric). Perhaps the engineers requested no clapping at all, for at least two minutes or something like that. Whatever, that removes the one thing that would prove this is a live recording, the audience reaction to it. This really has no bearing on the quality of this recording, which is excellent, but it would add something to it.

This is a super recording and well worth the price. It is hard to find a "bad" ring recording, but there are some super incrediblly good ones out there that tower over all others, and I would put this in that group."
At its best, the most theatrical Walkure on records
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"No opera house today could duplicate the cast Karl Bohm led in the Sixties at Byreuth, and we are fortunate to have a record of Nilsson live as Brunnhilde. Thanks to the clear, close-up miking of the singers, the mood is intensely dramatic. When it was first issued on LP, I rejected Bohm's often curt, brash conducting, which misses so much of Wagner's eloquence. Today, howeer, I must bow to the overall impact of the performance.

Most of the cast overlap either the Solti or Karajan studio cycles that were recorded during that era, but they add a bit more on stage (and a bit less in terms of vocal endurance and accuracy). With so much overlap, is this Walkure better than Solti's? James King is more relaxed and natural as Siegmund--he comes to life on stage in a way he never did in the stdio. Leonie Rysanek is a huge plus as Sieglinde, much more idiomatic and thrilling than Crespin for Solti.

The glorious Birgit Nilsson is a known quantity as Brunnhilde, but unfortunately so is Theo Adam, Bohm's Wotan in the whole cycle. A sturdy, unimaginative veteran, Adam offers nothing in the way of vocal beauty. He is up against the aged, woolly-sounding Hans Hotter for Solti, however, so it's a relief to hear a strong, secure voice in the part. The Hunding, Fricka, and Waltraute are considerably below their counterparts under Solti, but Walkure doesn't rise and fall on them.

Finally, the Vienna Phil. plays gloriously for Solti, while the Bayreth orchestra, good as it is, rarely rises to thrilling heights. It may be realistic to keep them in a recessed perspective, but for home listening, the effect lacks impact. All these deficits made a bigger difference forty years ago than they do today. in retrospect, this is a dramatic Walkure whose like we aren't going to see again for a long time."