Studio recording in stereo from
|Conductor: Daniel Barenboim|
Günter von Kannen
|Erda|| ||Birgitta Svendén|
|Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele||
Review by Henrik Boman|
The 136 E flat cords come to Wagner in a dream in the aftermath of
seasickness. With the first bars, the heavy strings make the Rhine enter
Your living room. The modern listener might be seasick too, overwhelmed by
the waves of the drama.
The Rhine maidens, one young and innocent, one a mature women, the last,
old and raged, teases Alberich, and one understands his frustration.
Alberich magnificent portrayed by Günter von Kannen, snatches the gold and
the modern capitalistic civilisation, in Wagner's disguise, is at hand.
John Tomlinson always Wotan in control, maybe a little too old and
experienced for being a young god in his prime. More than in any other
recording of the Ring I've heard, Wotan is the main character, the lead
role making the drama move on. In Götterdämmerung, when the gods are absent
from the drama, the director of the Bayreuth performance Harry Kupfer still
puts Wotan on the stage, of course not possible to 'hear' on record, but a
tribute to the god who watches his destiny materialise around Siegfried -
the ever present Wotan. And Fricka, later the person who actually causes
the death and destruction of the gods by forcing Wotan to withdraw his help
from Siegmund, is already in the Rhinegold his conscious, reminding him,
unknowing, of the destiny of the gods.
If Wotan is the fuel that pushes the drama to an end, Fricka is the sparkle
that ignites the fuel. Erda, resurrecting from earth at suitable moments,
usually the old lady of the lake, but in Barenboim's cast a beautiful lady,
as young as the gods. Masterly sung by Birgitta Svendén, a soft and
beautiful voice, and not the hard and hash interpretation so common for
Erda. Wotan is surprised by Erda, not because the female rising from below,
but because of her beauty. A motion which later resulted in his beloved
child Brünnhilde with Erda. This moment is underestimated in most
interpretations of Wagner but not in Barenboim's interpretation. The
intercourse between Erda and Wotan is essential for the continuing
development of the opera tetralogy - without Brünnhilde - no Ring.
Fafner and Fasolt, the giant threatening the gods by physical mythological
power, a situation solvable by the oldest method of all, the use of pure
gold. The trickster Loge controls the situation, excellently portrayed by
Graham Clarke. The payment to the giants results in the contact with the
treacherous Rhine Gold, and nothing becomes the same after that. Destiny
rules the gods and Wotan finally looses his love and meaning in life. This
is the development in the later operas, but it is present here to, the entry
into Walhall is not as magnificent as it should be, Wotan knows the bell of
fates has stricken, not for the last time but for the first. Barenboim
makes the music follows this path, the giants are gigantic but they do not
rock the earth, they are just a means for the gods to show who is superior.
Wagner as truly beautiful music, a reincarnation of the muses on Parnassos.
If air is necessary for all human being, this recording is necessary for
all Wagnerians, and for every body else to by the way.