PERFORMER: Katarina Dalayman, Lars Cleveman, Attila Jun, Peter Coleman-Wright, Nancy Gustafson, Susan Bickley, Andrew Shore, Ceri Williams, Yvonne Howard, Miranda Keys, Katherine Broderick, Madeleine Shaw, Leah-Marian Jones; Hallé Choir; Choruses of Royal Opera, BBC SO & London Symphony; Hallé/Mark Elder
CATALOGUE NO: HLD 7525
This magnificent recording, made live over two evenings at the Bridgewater Hall, renews the Hallé orchestra’s long and honourable Wagner tradition dating from founder Hans Richter, and Mark Elder proves himself a worthy heir. Originally a weighty disciple of Reginald Goodall, Elder has developed his own very convincing voice; this is a beautifully paced performance – measured, poetic but dynamic. The orchestra responds superbly. Passages like Brünnhilde’s bewildered brooding in Act II are unusually pointed, while the Act III prelude sounds newly fresh and open.
Georg Solti is still a benchmark, but performing live animates Elder’s already fine ensemble. Katarina Dalayman is one of the most appealing Brünnhildes on disc, Lars Cleveman a stalwart Siegfried, Attila Jun a striking Hagen, and Susan Bickley a tonally light but appropriately moving Waltraute. Norns and Rhinemaidens are also on the light and lyrical side, effectively so, and Andrew Shore singing Alberich’s nocturne brings Bayreuth magic. Only Nancy Gustafson’s overly mature ingénue Gutrune is a little unsatisfactory. This rendition might please both Solti and Furtwängler admirers, and provides a keen alternative to either.
The single MP3 disc version, playable on computers, DVD and some CD players, is excellent value for newcomers, but on good equipment the CDs sound noticeably more spacious. Michael Scott Rohan