Wagner

COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: Melba
ALBUM TITLE: Götterdämmerung
PERFORMER: Timothy Mussard, Lisa Gasteen, Duccio dal Monte, Jonathan Summers, Joanna Cole, John Wegner, Elizabeth Campbell, Liane Keegan, Gaye McFarlane, Kate Ladner, Natalie Jones, Donna-Maree Dunlop, Zan McKendree-Wright; State Opera of South Australia Chorus; Ade
CATALOGUE NO: MR 301099-102
An appropriately epic climax to South Australian Opera’s first Ring cycle, recorded in SACD surround – and if you need convincing what a difference that can make, try this set. The sheer theatrical immediacy and orchestral scale and detail here are electrifying. Even in stereo, though, this is an involving performance.

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As in the preceding operas, the cast is a strong ensemble, though not definitive. Lisa Gasteen’s strongly sung Brünnhilde sounds far better than at Covent Garden, despite strains in her upper range and diction blurring under pressure. Timothy Mussard is a more stolid Siegfried than his youthful-sounding predecessor. Duccio dal Monte’s big-voiced Hagen has mercifully improved since Neuhold’s bargain cycle, though his tone is still hollow and foggy. Jonathan Summers is a stronger-than-usual Gunther; Joanna Cole a suitably ingenue Gutrune, and Elizabeth Campbell a decent Waltraute. Rhinemaidens are as strong as in Rheingold, Norns imposingly doom-laden, but Wegner’s mordant Alberich is afflicted by a tinny amplified effect. Unifying and ultimately distinguishing the performances is the truly epic, yet sensitive conducting of Asher Fisch. He above all makes this the finest modern cycle since his mentor Barenboim’s.

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Michael Scott Rohan