Studio recording in stereo from
|Conductor: Pierre Boulez|
|Brünnhilde|| ||Gwyneth Jones|
|Hunding|| ||Matti Salminen|
|Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele||
Review by Graham Clark|
As was the case with its predecessor at Bayreuth, the 1967 Böhm cycle,
the Walküre is the peak of the Boulez set. The conducting is the most
revolutionary before the recent Barenboim "Ring". Boulez has reduced the
volume (and in some ways, status) of the orchestra to the the level of
chamber music. This provides an almost charming transparancy in the
music, as well as the ability for the singers to show off their abilities
without being overplayed by the brass.
What a cast it is, too. Sir Donald McIntyre outdoes himself as Wotan,
a role which he has sadly given up singing of late. He is even finer than
he was in Das Rheingold, making the famous Act Two monologue positively
Opposite McIntye in the scene between Wotan and Fricka, we find a searing
Hanna Schwarz, not a bit timid or wobbly. As Brünnhilde, we are granted
Gwyneth Jones. Dame Jones has often been criticized for having a shrill,
or even distorted voice. Any listening to her here makes even the toughest
critic sound like a fool, for she gives one of the warmest and steadiest
readings since the days of Birgit Nilsson.
Otherwise, Jeannine Altmeyer (the youngest singer on the whole Boulez
Ring) makes a light, but delightfully dramatic Sieglinde, and Matti
Salminen, a threatening Hunding, though his voice can sound oversized
for the role at times. Peter Hofmann has been critized again and again
for a roughness of tone, and this criticism has some basis. He is
involving, but not as sympathetic as he could be.
Boulez's fast speeds here allow the entire Walküre to be comfortably
packaged on three CD's instead of the typical four, a considerable price
advantage. One the whole, this recording is not as refined as Solti's,
as exciting as Böhm's or Krauss's, or as well cast as Janowski's (the
last was recorded at approximately the same time), but otherwise very
hard to beat.
This Walküre was recorded at the centenary production of the Bayreuth
"Ring". It does not match all of its predescessors, but has the added
advantage of being on video.
The production video taped was even more revolutionary than the
conducting. The director, Patrice Chereau, has Hunding's hut portrayed
as a grand mansion, and Hunding himself is a wealthy Baron. Brünnhilde
appears as a school-girl in uniform, except when she wears her armor.
The first half of Act Two in fact takes place inside Walhall (with the
gods dressed as aristocrats). The fire at the end is shockingly realistic
for a stage production. Suprisingly, this opera can still be enjoyed (as
can Siegfried), as a normal production, as long as you are not too fussy
about 19th century style scenery.
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.