Wagner: Die Walküre

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: Farao
WORKS: Die Walküre
PERFORMER: Peter Seiffert, Kurt Rydl, John Tomlinson, Waltraud Meier, Gabriele Schnaut, Mihoko Fujimura; Bavarian State Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
CATALOGUE NO: B 108 040 (distr. Codaex)
A great Wotan makes the god’s famously lengthy Act II narration a dream combination of thriller and Shakespearian soliloquy. So it is here, where John Tomlinson – proving again that the role sounds most vocally complete when undertaken by a bass – displays a range of colour, subtlety and pacing perhaps only equalled on disc by Hans Hotter. He is ably supported by Zubin Mehta in a fluent reading of the score which, at last, does audible justice to this conductor’s immense theatrical experience. Farao’s recording – from three live performances in July 2002 – shows off the Bavarians’ fine wind and percussion with a warm, natural pit-stage balance that does not neglect the back of the orchestra.

Advertisement

If Gabriele Schnaut’s Brünnhilde is not the most even-sounding on record, the performance is compulsively thought-through as drama and shirks no vocal challenge. Mihoko Fujimura is an uncommonly feminine and lustrous Fricka and Peter Seiffert and Kurt Rydl deliver clean, no-nonsense accounts of their roles as Siegmund and Hunding. Waltraud Meier’s Sieglinde carries an emotional charge that recalls Lotte Lehmann’s, bought with the odd exaggeratedly slow tempo.

If played on a DVD player the set has the options of PCM surround or stereo (and still photos to match each track). The booklet note is confusing and poorly translated; the English version of the libretto wacky.

Advertisement

Clemens Krauss, Hotter and Astrid Varnay at Bayreuth 1953 remain my gun-to-head choice; but the present issue will give much pleasure. Mike Ashman