Sir Mark Elder conducts Wagner’s Lohengrin

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: RCO
ALBUM TITLE: Wagner
WORKS: Lohengrin
PERFORMER: Klaus Florian Vogt, Camilla Nylund, Katarina Dalayman, Evgeny Nikitin, Falk Struckmann; Netherlands Radio Choir, Dutch National Opera Chorus; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam/Mark Elder
CATALOGUE NO: RCO 17002 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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This is in some ways the finest modern recording of Lohengrin, in the first place on account of Sir Mark Elder’s superbly detailed, passionate and large-scale conducting of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which we rarely have a chance to hear in complete performances of Wagner. Listen to the Prelude to Act I and you are bound to get the set.

The singing, as always, is more controversial though not to a huge extent. The hero is taken by Klaus Florian Vogt, whose voice does divide opinion. I find him mainly persuasive in this role, though I can understand someone’s not agreeing: though he has a rather constricted tone without lower resonances, his voice is suitable for much of Lohengrin’s part, if not for his occasional louder passages. No two views about Elsa: Camilla Nylund is ideal, pure of tone but not insipid, and capable of always beautiful passionate outbursts. Evgeny Nikitin is a less satisfactory Telramund, the weak villain; too often he resorts to monotonous ranting – the baritone, not the character. The singer whom I found least satisfactory is Katarina Dalayman as Ortrud. She is more at home in the sardonic than in the imprecatory parts of her complex role, but at times her diction deteriorates to a point where it is hardly recognisable, and she is too often under pressure. The two bass roles are admirably taken, and the large choral contributions are perfect. A complete text, both in German and English, is provided.

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Michael Tanner