Great Value Gotterdamerung
Steven Muni | Sutter Creek, CA USA | 03/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can't beat this recording for the money. Haitink belongs to the school of more up-tempo Wagner conductors, not as fast as Boulez or Bohm, but faster than Solti, and much faster than the more measured (some might say ponderous) school of Wagnerian conducting, exemplified by conductors like Furtwangler, Karajan and the Met's James Levine. And so the opera moves right along with excellent energy and dramatic force and the Bavarian Radio Symphony sounds wonderful and full.
With one exception, (and I'm afraid it's a fairly big one), the singing is first-rate. Siegfried Jerusalem had a lovely tenor voice, and he uses it with real style and musicality. Thomas Hampson makes a melodic Gunther, and Sir John Tomlinson a malevolent Hunding. The great German baritone Theo Adam, a great Dutchman, Hans Sachs, and Wotan, here at the end of his career, sings Alberich. His voice may be a little dry, but his artistry is still as great as ever--although he's not a bass, and Alberich is usually sung by a bass. In a piece of luxury casting, Anne Sofie von Otter and Jane Eaglen are cast as the second and third Norns.
The exception is Eva Marton as Brunnhilde. Mind you, she's not bad. For the most part she handles Brunnhilde's music reasonably well. But she's up against some pretty great Brunnhildes, including the burnished metal of Birgit Nillson, the warmth and dramatic fire of Astrid Varnay (my personal favorite), the intensity of Dame Gwyneth Jones, the expressiveness of Martha Modl, to name a few. And in this company Marton comes across as rather one-dimensional, and by the Immolation scene, her voice sounds tired and forced.
No recording of Gotterdamerung is without some problem. Solti's, with Birgit Nillson and Wolfgang Windgassen is often regarded as the top of the line, but some critics aren't fond of Solti's rather muscular conducting and Windgassen was at the end of his career. My personal favorite is the recently released Testament recording, conducted by Joseph Keilberth, (a seriously underrated Wagnerian conductor), with Astrid Varnay, Wolfgang Windgassen (ten years younger and with a much more flexible voice than on the Solti recording), Hermann Uhde and Josef Griendl. Recorded in 1955, it's the earliest stereo live recording at Bayreuth, and the quality, although remarkable for 1955, isn't without issue.
This recording has excellent sound quality and balance. And although there's no libretto, the booklet does have a detailed synopsis tied to the music. At the price, you can't beat it and even with my reservations about Marton's Brunnhilde, I give it 5 stars."
"Dunkt er euch niedrig, ihr dient ihm doch - des Niblungen S
Eric S. Kim | Southern California | 07/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, so the Haitink Ring has its ups and downs. The ups being the fantastic Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bernard Haitink as the conductor, and most of the cast. The downside being the Brunnhilde of Eva Marton, and the Alberich of Theo Adam. Marton doesn't have the proper Brunnhilde voice, and she's at her worst when she's singing the "Immolation". I prefer Adam as Wotan in the Janowski and Bohm Rings; he sounds too old and heavy as the Nibelung.
I can tolerate Marton and Adam's singing when I listen to Gotterdammerung. Jerusalem (Siegfried), Tomlinson (Hagen), Bundschuh (Gutrune), Lipovsek (Waltraute), and others are what makes this one special. Four stars, because of Brunnhilde and Alberich.
Das Rheingold: Wagner: Das Rheingold
Die Walkure: Wagner: Die Walküre
Siegfried: Wagner: Siegfried - Siegfried Jerusalem, Kiri TeKanawa, Theo Adam, Eva Marton, James Morris, Bernard Haitink"
Burning down the house, in spite of Brunnhilde!
Y. Shuster | forest hills, New York United States | 11/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This recording of Gotterdammerung is quite good, except for Eva Marton, who already seems to be past her prime as Brunnhilde. This is unfortunate, for the substantial immolation scene occupies the last twenty minutes or so of the opera and concludes the cycle. However, Haitink's conducting is very good. He gets the tempi correct, and there is an immediacy and urgency that keeps the performance going without being too fast. Hampson as Gunther is outstanding, and Marjana Lipovsek is also in very fine vocal form. Siegfried Jerusalem is very competent as his name sake. Overall a fine contribution to the many ring cycles out there. About the same quality as Janowski's and Barenboim's, but not as good as Karajan's, Levine's or Solti's."