Live recording in mono from
August 9, 1953
|Conductor: Clemens Krauss|
|Siegmund|| ||Ramón Vinay|
|Wotan|| ||Hans Hotter|
|Brünnhilde|| ||Astrid Varnay|
|Hunding|| ||Josef Greindl|
Maria von Ilosvay
|Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele||
|Gala, GL 100.652
Review by Henrik Boman|
Once being the first complete Ring to be issued on record, this is one of
the most consistent casts in a Ring recording. The voices are heavier than
in modern recording, Vinay, Resnik and Varnay all got the 'dark thing' in
The dark voice of Vinay is superb, and very different from other Siegmunds.
To call his voice heavy would be wrong but he puts weight behind every
word, he is more the father of Siegfried than the son of Wotan. Astrid
Varnay, one of the safest cards to play, radiant as ever, is the convincing
Brünnhilde, full of rage and despair. And Hotter, I just say Hans Hotter.
The second act, the scenes between Wotan and Brünnhilde, is among the very
best that I have ever heard. Hans Hotter shows why he is called one of the
greatest Wotan ever. I have long doubted his greatness but after this
recording all my doubts are long gone, swept away by the extraordinary
interplay between the Almighty Father and his daughter.
Josef Greindl was one of the very few pre-war singers that returned, or was
allowed to return, to Bayreuth after the war. And it is quite obvious when you
listen to his interpretation of Hunding. Hunding, a difficult role, the
evil man hunting down Siegmund but also the betrayed man who's wife
committed the crime of falling in love with her own brother. Hunding, the
man who serves Fricka and still does not reach Walhall, and who dies by
just the single word 'geh' from Wotan.
Krauss' conducting is straightforward, preferring a lighter tempi with
well-chosen broader tempi at important moments in the music. The music
breathes, the pulse gets higher when the music becomes more intensive.
Comparing the conducting with the recently released Knappertsbusch
Götterdämmerung of 1951, this 1953 Walküre sounds much younger, with a
brisk and tempered way of dealing with the flow of the music. The heavy,
older sound of Knappertsbusch makes the drama stall sometimes, Krauss flows
on, like a waltz (?) in a mythological forest. Knappertsbusch is heavier,
relaying more on older tradition, and wanting to do so, than looking
forward. And of course, his connection as to Bayreuth when a young man
working as assistant to Hans Richter in Bayreuth 1911-12, is unmistakably
and important for his attitude towards Wagner. Krauss is more neutral to the
tradition of Wagner in Bayreuth. And he should be - that is one of the main
points with the New Bayreuth emerging after the War. His Parsifal the same year
was the fastest Parsifal ever conducted until Boulez appeared in the pit in Bayreuth.
And Boulez, as we know, is a radical Wagner conductor. Unfortunately 1953 was the only
year Krauss conducted in Bayreuth; he died at 61 years of age in May 1954.
The sound quality of the recording is more than adequate, a little dull
maybe and sometimes 'boring' but there is no distortion. Of course the
movement on stage makes some noise but it is a live recording and the
'complementary sound' can sometimes assist the music in a very dramatic
The Krauss Ring is highly recommended, the Walküre being the most
outstanding of the operas in Krauss' Ring.