Götterdämmerung
Studio recording in stereo
May, 1989
Conductor: James Levine
Brünnhilde Hildegard Behrens
Siegfried Reiner Goldberg
Hagen Matti Salminen
Alberich Ekkehard Wlaschiha
Gunther Bernd Weikl
Gutrune Sheryl Studer
Waltraute Hanna Schwarz
Woglinde Hei-Kyung Hong
Wellgunde Diane Kesling
Flo▀hilde Meredith Parsons
1. Norne Helga Dernesch
2. Norne Tatiana Troyanos
3. Norne Andrea Gruber
Metropolitan Opera
Orchestra and Chorus
Deutsche Grammophon, 429 385-2 4 CDs DDD
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Review by Graham Clark

Levine's recording of Götterdämmerung, when compared to other modern performances of the work is not very good: it's terrific!

First, there is an outstanding cast, the peak of which is the Brünnhilde of Hildegard Behrens. She conveys an unusually spontaneous warmth of tone, and loses not a bit of the dramatic ability of her rivals. She was the Metropolitan Opera's prime Brünnhilde, and this recording amply proves why. Matti Salminen had already recorded a magnificent Hagen for Janowski, and this re-reading of the role shows him with more control over his massive voice (even if some of its former energy is missing).

As Hagen's half-siblings, Bernd Weikl and Cheryl Studer are very good; both make their roles more sympathetic than usual, even if the latter's Gutrune is not as sweet as say Janowitz's, or as vulnerable as Watson's. Reiner Goldberg (Siegfried) is no "heldentenor", but he tries hard, and though his result may be a little light, I think he is perfectly good enough when it comes to endurance and dramatic ability.

As for the orchestra and orchestration, the Metropolitain Opera Orchestra players outdo themselves. In my opinion, they have rarely played so beautifully, even if the strings are inaudible against the brass on occasion (such as "Siegfrieds Rheinfart"). "Jimmy" Levine's tempo is well paced, not very fast or slow, but is very intricate, and never sluggish.

The sound quality of the recording well matches its other aspects. Everything sounds to me as if it were straight out of a legend. As long as you can ignore the slightly clumsy libretto and the fairly high price, this is one of the finest Götterdämmerungs since that of Janowski.




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