Studio recording in stereo
|Conductor: Christoph von Dohnányi|
Eike Wilm Schulte
Franz Josef Kapellmann
|Decca, 443 690-2
Review by Graham Clark|
Though many still consider the Solti "Ring cycle", recorded by
Decca (London), to be one of the greatest achievements of music
recording history, new cycles have been released and are being
bought by the dozen. Faced with all of this younger compepetition,
Decca has decided to begin a new cycle, with another Hungarian
The cast is generally very fine. The only singer I have problems
with is the steady, not at all wicked Alberich of Kapellmann. I find
him sympathetic in Scene 1 when I'm really in the mood, but I really
prefer his Solti counterpart, Gustav Neidlinger. As with Solti's
Wotan (George London), Decca here picked an American singer for the
role, Robert Hale. I don't think he gives as much character to the
role as his current compeditors, James Morris and John Tomlinson,
but he is still very good compared to some of the stuff you see
(and hear) on stage these days.
In smaller roles, Hanna Schwarz as Fricka (a role which she has
become a regular in) and Kim Begley as Loge are very good, though
the latter could be more involving (he's a little thin-voiced for
my taste). Most of the other singers produce a fairly typical affect,
but Peter Schreier crowns the recording with his wild reading of Mime
(he can be heard in the role in Siegfried on Janowski's "Ring"), and
Sunnegårdh brings unusual warmth of tone to the role of Froh.
Dohnányi's approach to conducting the work is less dramatic than
Solti's, and the speeds sometimes lag. Therefore, the first three
scenes scurry to closes without any feeling of momentum, and episodes
such as the storm scene lack weight. The Cleveland Orchestra is
convincing enough, but certainly no match for the Vienna Philharmonic,
used on Decca's first Das Rheingold. The sound effects are also not at
the level of the Solti's recording. The hammerblow of Donner is a
disappointing "bang" on a board (though it is followed by a fine
thunder crack, and something that sounds like a mix of high winds and
something sparking from the lightening), for example.
In the middle of 1997 (Das Rheingold was released in '96) the Die
Walküre of this cycle was completed. I have sadly not yet had a
chance to listen to it. The cast sounds promissing, with Gabriele
Schnaut as Brünnhilde, Poul Elming as Siegmund, and Anja Silja as
Fricka. I look forward to hearing it, and the rest of the cycle
(scheduled for completion in 1999). Happy listening!
This review is from the now closed Wagner on the Web and it is published
without the author's consent. I haven't been able to get in touch with him.
If the author reads this, please contact me as soon as possible. If you
don't want it here, I'll take it of the site immediately.