Nilsson's first German Brünnhilde
Jim Player | Rochester, NY, USA | 03/01/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This recording was made on the opening night of the 1955 Münich opera season with Kna at the helm and the great Nilsson early in her international career. Nilsson had only sung the Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde the previous year in Stockholm, and actually learned parts of the German text on the plane to Munich.
Obviously, it is not the interpretation of the Solti/Böhm recordings...her voice is smaller in scale..brighter and more youthful. But even though she doesn't have the experience (and it shows), she does give a very, very good performance and is worth hearing for those who follow her brilliant career.Bernd Aldenhoff was one of the leading Siegfrieds in the 50's, and has a handsome dark tenor voice...not overly baritonal like a Vinay, but more like Suthaus only a bit brighter. He sings very capably here, the only drawback being an incessant wobble which increases from the top of the staff up, especially in forte passages.Gottlob Frick is superb in one of his signature roles, singing Hagen with both svelte and menace with his big grainy black bass.Hermann Uhde, a frequent Gunther at Bayreuth, gives the role both the nobility and tragedy it deserves.Leonie Rysanek gives an added treat in the small role of Gutrune, and Otakar Kraus sings Alberich competently, albeit with some histrionics and a heavy vibrato.The rest of the cast is good with Bayreuth and Munich regulars, Ira Malaniuk, Hertha Töpper, Marianne Schech and others.Of the four Ring operas, Götterdämmerung is surely Knappertbusch's best, and this recording ranks alonside the famous 1951 Bayreuth set. Here he is just as inspired as any other recording, or at least nearly so, leading with his well known pacing and authority, from black stormy menace in the Act 1 transtion after "Hagen's Watch" to hair raising brilliance in Siegfried's Rhine Journey.
A definite must own recording of a great performance."
A great one
Erik Aleksander Moe | Oslo, Norway | 08/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance of Gotterdammerung from September 1955 is a great one. There is first the young Birigt Nilsson doing to a great performance of Brunnhilde. I must differ from the previous reviewer and say that she really does possess the same olympian voice we have heard from her in her recordings of the role in the 60s, most notably in the Bohm and Solti performances. She is dramatically more into her character on those performances, but she is vocally equally great. The Immolation scene is performed with much feeling and depth of character too. Her partners here are Bernd Aldenhoff as Siegfried, Hermann Uhde as Gunther, Gottlob Frick as Hagen and Leonie Rysanek as Gutrune. Aldenhoff, in many ways, is superior to Wolfgang Windgassen, who sang Siegfried on the two aforementioned performances. Aldenhoff possesses the necessary weight in his voice to portray the a little older Siegfried magnificently. Windgassen's voice is very suitably to the younger but so much to the older. Hermann Uhde was the probably the greatest interpreter of Gunther in the last 50 years and he is here at his best. It is said that it is a thankless role, but it depends on what the interpreter makes of it. Hagen, for me, is the most important villain of the piece. Gottlob Frick was a magnificent Hagen. Not as manacing as Josef Greindl, but Frick has a much superior voice. He is especially great when almost seducting Gutrune into going along with making a potion to put Siegfried under their spell. Leonie Rysanek gave Gutrune great depth. The role is so many times performed very dully, but Rysanek really brings out the passion and feelings of the character.Then there is Hans Knappertsbusch. He was the last of the greatest Wagner conductors and he delivers a performance with much insight, tension and feeling. His tempi are slow, but the drama never ever lags. He had such a feeling for this opera.The sound is good, with fairly high fidelity. There are a couple of times that we cannot hear some lines, but overall is the sound very satisfactory.This is a performance that is highly recommended, not just for Nilsson enthusiastics, but for all wishes to hear a great performance of a great opera by Richard Wagner."
I couldn't believe my ears when I heard this
Erik Aleksander Moe | 02/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We normally hear Birgit Nilsson in her 40's - her Solti recordings were made when she was 42, 43, 45, 46 and 47. But here we have her when she was 36!! That's the best part of a singer's career generally. And Nilsson sounds even better than ever!! Couldn't believe my ears!!"