ALBUM TITLE: Wagner
PERFORMER: Albert Bonnema, Hernan Iturralde, Franz-Josef Kapellmann, Roland Bracht, Luana DeVol, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Tichina Vaughn, Janet Collins, Lani Poulson, Sue Patchell; Stuttgart State Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Lothar Zagrosek
CATALOGUE NO: 8.660179-82
This recording was made from two performances in 2002 and 2003. Peter Konwitschny, the director, finds Wagner questionable and gets the characters to go in for paroxysms of cackling mirth at key moments of drama – when Brünnhilde ignites Siegfried’s funeral pyre, for instance. It’s meant to guarantee that you’re not moved, and it works. On a mere audio recording, it just baffles you.
Meanwhile the music is unevenly conducted by Lothar Zagrosek, the one constant in this Ring. And it is more unevenly sung. Albert Bonnema sounds young and stays the course as Siegfried. More troublesome is the Brünnhilde of Luana DeVol. A 60?year-old shouldn’t be singing this role, but she is intelligent and dignified where she needs to be. As so often, the most satisfactory performance comes from the villainous Hagen, sung here by Roland Bracht. The other roles are taken tolerably. The recording has impressive weight and dynamic scale. But put on the Bayreuth 1955 recording, recently issued in glorious sound and immediately you’re on a different, vastly superior plane. Michael Tanner