Wagner Das Rheingold
Sarah Tynan, Madeleine Shaw, Leah-Marian Jones, Samuel Youn, Iain Paterson, Susan Bickley, Will Hartmann, Emma Bell, Reinhard Hagen, Clive Bayley, David Stout, David Butt Philip, Nicky Spence, Susanne Resmark; Hallé/Mark Elder
Hallè CDHLD7549 166:20 mins (3 discs)
The Hallé completes the Ring it originally hesitated to make, an impressive achievement characterised by Sir Mark Elder’s measured readings, recalling his mentor Sir Reginald Goodall. Rheingold, though, with its fast-moving dramatic structure, responds least well to the expansive, long-breathed approach – stretching here to three well-filled discs. The Rhine becomes a very turbid stream indeed, despite some lively Rhinemaidens. The Hallé’s strings don’t have the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s lustre in Jaap van Zweden’s Naxos version, and the recording isn’t as vivid; but with the glowing brass transition to the heights, the performance begins to gather momentum. Elder extracts some telling detail, especially from more lyrical passages, but nevertheless much of its life stems from the excellent cast. Those who enjoyed the cycle so far needn’t hesitate, and Ring habituees will appreciate the spaciousness and detail. But for a first or only Rheingold, more dynamic versions are preferable.
Michael Scott Rohan