The power of Wagner's music drama is now fully accessible
Clinton D. Davis | Norman, OK United States | 01/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have never been a fan of opera in translation, but I must say that Andrew Porter's rendering of The Ring in English is amazing. He uses modern, not archaic, English, and the word choice is so very earthy and Germanic that the noble yet somewhat severe atmosphere of the Teutonic myths is conveyed perfectly. The sound, in other words, is an elegantly Germanic, and totally appropriate for the music and the Story it tells. It is not true that you can't understand the English anyway, because you can understand if you care to pay any attention at all. The translation is lucid, and so it the marvelous singing that conveys it. Goodall's sense of music drama is lush, and takes some getting used to after the crash-and-burn Solti set, but after a time or two it seems just right. Goodall is not always slower than the rest, either; for example, the famous Ride of the Valkyries that begins Act III is quicker than Solti's surprisingly slow and heavy account. It is the most exciting that I have heard--and I have heard quite a few--but it is not so fast that the power is lost in favor of urgency. This is not an urgent Die Walkure, and it is all the better for it. Goodall takes the time to actually tell the story, and is sensitive to the drama's needs over what could be called convention. For example, Wotan's Farewell doesn't thunder out after Brunnhilde's final declamation, like in so many recordings; rather, Goodall's interpretation is more dreamy, mysterious, and appropriately trance-like, in keeping with the action on stage. I own the complete Solti Ring, but I must say I will be the first in line to get each new installment of this remarakable Ring as soon they hit the shelves. If you are new to Wagner, and are willing to make the plunge into a complete Ring, then start with this one and see if you want to continue. This recording is definitely one of the great Rings, and the superb translation will open up the work in ways that following the libretto just won't. I promise that you won't be able to put this one away easily. Get it!"
Daniel Mitrano | Ft. Lauderdale, FL | 01/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The good--Hunter, Bailey, the Valkyrie octet, and Grant are all wonderful with beautiful voices, dramatic alertness, and a lyricism that is unmatched in any other ring recording. Hunter might not have a true Wagneriandramaticsopran voice but she shines in the role with her incisive delivery, poise, and gleaming tone. Bailey is probably the best Wotan in any Walkyrie recording since he has the dramatic aspects plus a large, beautiful bass-baritone voice. Remedios as Siegmund doesn't quite reach their level because the role, although a tenor role, requires a functional range of a baritone. Remedios, no matter how hard he tries, cannot emulate this: his voice is simply too light. Otherwise, he has probably the most beautiful voice ever to sing Siegmund and his interpretation is fascinating. Goodall's spacious and slow tempi work the best here in the second ring opera. The momentum and adrenaline has built up so much that by the final scenes, the effect is nothing short of breathtaking. Brunnhilde's and Wotan's final scenes work in a way that the pain, heartache, love, and longing are all magically conveyed not only in purely musical terms, but by Bailey and Hunter also. No other conductor captures the moment when Wotan kisses Brunnhilde's forehead and takes her god status away like Goodall. It is a truly shattering moment. The bad--Curphey as Sieglinde has all the dramtic temperament and musical alertness one could hope for. In fact she delivers in spades in the climatic moments that few other Sieglindes dare. Unfortunately, her voice in unphonogenic and isn't caught well at all. Neither is Anne Howard as Fricka--a shame since she is a fearsome singing-actress. The ugly-- Why didn't they make a studio recording of the entire Goodall ring? I know Goodall preferred the live performance conditions, but we at home have to put up with stage noises, audience interruptions, variable balances, misfires and mistakes from the musicians, and a recording environment that isn't conduscive to capturing the adroit English translation. What makes it more disappointing is that Goodall recorded Act III of Gotterdammerung in the studio with the same singers and in English; we lose no dramatic energy plus everything is crisp and polished in this setting. An opportunity missed. I still wouldn't want to be without this recording and Enough of the English is audible to bring more dimension to Wagner's masterpiece for non-German speaking listeners."
A powerful reading of the most moving opera in the Ring.
John P. | Kennett Square, PA USA | 08/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance of *Die Valkure,* the second and most popular opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle, is musically splendid. Its special significance, however, is that it is sung in English. An English performance of the Ring is perhaps more important than that of any other opera(s), because Wagner's libretti are suffused with his ideas about society, fate, justice, and love. Even if (at times) you need to read along to understand what the singers are saying, *hearing* the lyrics in English is truly stirring in a way that performances in your non-native language cannot match.
A particular stand-out on this recording is the Wotan. His timbre, diction, and delivery perfectly embody the troubled god who tries desperately, and in vain, to keep the world under his control. His angst and wrath are utterly convincing."