|Der Ring des Nibelungen|
Studio recording in stereo
1966 - 70
|Conductor: Herbert von Karajan|
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
December 6-28, 1967
|Wotan|| ||Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau|
|Loge|| ||Gerhard Stolze|
|Fasolt|| ||Martti Talvela|
|Fafner|| ||Karl Ridderbusch|
August 25-December 30, 1966
|Siegmund|| ||Jon Vickers|
|Wotan|| ||Thomas Stewart|
|Hunding|| ||Martti Talvela|
December, 1968 and February, 1969
|Siegfried|| ||Jess Thomas|
|Mime|| ||Gerhard Stolze|
|Wanderer|| ||Thomas Stewart|
|Fafner|| ||Karl Ridderbusch|
October 10-December 29, 1969 and January 2-6, 1970
|Siegfried|| ||Helge Brilioth|
|Hagen|| ||Karl Ridderbusch|
|Gunther|| ||Thomas Stewart|
|Waltraute|| ||Christa Ludwig|
|1. Norne|| |
|2. Norne|| ||Christa Ludwig|
|3. Norne|| ||Catarina Ligendza||
Review by Constantijn Blondel|
The Karajan-cycle is typically Karajan in that it differs substantially
from every other interpretation. Karajan selected a cast of singers he saw
as fit for his picture and his idea of the Ring and though he sacrifices
consistency of cast to dramatic suitability this works out fine i.m.h.o.
The casting of Dietrich Fischer-Diskau as Wotan is often criticised, but
I don't agree with this. In my opinion Fischer-Diskau definitely possesses
the authority needed for the role...he just doesn't sing it like Hotter,
and if some people can't accept this then so be it...but objectively the
role is very well sung, more so since his usual intelligence points out
the manipulating and haggling capabilities of the God.
Josephine Veasy is for many people the best Fricka on record, and I agree
with this...she possesses enough 'spitfire' (especially in Die Walküre)
but she also can soften her tone in the scenes in Rheingold where she
tries to soften Wotan. Loge is most brilliantly sung by Gerhard Stolze...
One seems to burn his fingers when trying to turn the pages of the booklet
where he sings. Zoltán Kelemen sings a good Alberich, with enough 'bark'
but also with a lot of melodic sense, which Gustav Neidlinger was expert
at. He might not be the best Alberich, neither the most terrifying, but
he is definitely convincing.
Siegmund is sung by Jon Vickers...no comment, just listen to him.
The casting of Gundula Janowitz as Sieglinde made for a lot of criticism
too...sure, she has a light voice, but it is only a different approach,
but not a wrong approach...I very much like the heavier voices of Leonie
Rysanek or Lotte Lehman, but in the total picture Janowitz works very well
and it is refreshing to hear the lovely aspect of Sieglinde worked out.
The same goes for her Gutrune....I finally understood why Siegfried falls
for her, which is a compliment.
The Walküre Wotan is sung by Thomas Stewart. He sings good, but is not
entirely fit for the role (his acting though is excellent)...I'd have
liked to hear Fischer-Diskau as the Walküre Wotan. Stewart is much better
as Wanderer, where he projects the world-wisdom and in the Erda-scene the
Régine Crespin is better known for her Solti Sieglinde, but in my opinion
she makes a lot of her Walküre Brünnhilde here. She is more the sensuous
warrior maiden here instead of the adult god-daughter of more conventional
singers. This young, girlish interpretation works very well.
From Siegfried on Brünnhilde is sung by Helga Dernesch. Anyone who liked
Ms. Dernesch's Isolde (also with Karajan) shall like her Brünnhilde. I
think she has much of Birgit Nilsson in her voice, especially the ringing
and eardrum splitting high notes...I like this very much. After Nilsson
she is my 2nd favorite Brünnhilde.
Gerhard Stolze is Mime and sings the dwarf just as Mime is....an ugly
despicable villain who, when the time comes can do nothing but be beaten
by about everyone else...brilliant!
Siegfried is sung by Jess Thomas. Again this is a casting which has been
criticized a lot. I agree that he is not a real 'heavy-weight' but that's
just the whole point...In "Siegfried" Siegfried is a young boy and the
fresh boyish voice of Jess Thomas conveys this magnificently...but I
guess you don't have to like it.
In Götterdämmerung Siegfried is sung by Helge Brillioth. He doesn't have
the greatest of voices but he is still very good...he has a more mature
voice than Jess Thomas, but he still projects the sense that Siegfried
is not much of an adult, but more of a somewhat older adolescent. Again,
you don't have to like it, but I do. Hagen is sung by Karl Ridderbusch,
who also sings Fafner. He is good, but he has too much of a 'Hans Sachs
kind of voice' to convince entirely as Hagen. Though his acting is great
(as with all singers) and his singing is generally good, he is easily
beaten by for instance Josef Greindl and especially the blackest of black
Hagens, Philip Kang. Gunther is sung by Thomas Stewart. He is good, and
I think this role suits him more then Wotan, but it is still strange to
hear Gunther sung by the same singer as Wotan.
The secondary casting is along the whole line excellent and contains no
weak links. The playing of the Berliner Philharmoniker is a revelation
to listen to and Karajan's conducting....well...you like it or you don't.
I guess you can qualify me as a Karajan-nut, but I do like it. He is
extremely sensitive and sometimes you hold your breath just as not to
miss any note. If you like Karajan's other Wagner recordings you'll also
Right now DGG has released the entire set in its "Originals" series for
budget price. I bought the cycle for Fl. 225, which is about US$ 175.
If one can't look beyond Furtwängler, Melchior, Hotter and Flagstad
(no offense meant, because these amongst the truly great artists) then
one should better leave this set alone. If one wants to look beyond the
conventional horizons, then this set is definitely worth buying. As with
all great music...every time I hear this it grows and grows.