Live recording in stereo from
Festspielhaus Bayreuth
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Brünnhilde Birgit Nilsson
Siegfried Wolfgang Windgassen
Hagen Josef Greindl
Alberich Gustav Neidlinger
Gunther Thomas Stewart
Gutrune Ludmilla Dvoráková
Waltraute Martha Mödl
Woglinde Dorothea Siebert
Wellgunde Helga Dernesch
Floßhilde Sieglinde Wagner
1. Norne Marga Höffgen
2. Norne Annelies Burmeister
3. Norne Anja Silja
Chor und Orchester der
Bayreuther Festspiele
Philips, 412 488-2 4 CDs ADD
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Review by Charles E. Muntz

With Götterdämmerung Karl Böhm no longer has the principal vocal weakness of his cast--Theo Adam--as one of the vocalists. And generally, this Götterdämmerung is of a very high standard. Its pinnacle is Birgit Nilsson, whose voice positively gleams and carries over the orchestra with effortless resplendency throughout the recording, even at the very end of the Immolation scene. Her performance here is to be preferred by a slight margin over that which she gave for Solti.

Her Siegfried, the veteran Wolfgang Windgassen, brings a tremendous amount of musical knowledge and intelligence to the role, even though he does not sound as fresh as he does for Krauss, or as consistently inspired and vivid as he does for Solti.

The rest of the cast is mixed. Josef Greindl is rather nasal as Hagen; his interpretation is mean, whereas Gottlob Frick’s is one of maniacal evil. Frick also has a better, blacker voice. Greindl is better heard on Krauss. Gustav Neidlinger is a desperate, evil Alberich, perfectly sung.

Thomas Stewart on the other hand is a resonant, well-sung and intelligent Gunther, perhaps not as noble and tragic as Fischer-Dieskaus, but an excellent achievement anyway. Dvoráková sounds rather old and characterless as Gutrune. Martha Mödl, once a fine heroic soprano in her own right, is rather interesting, but unsteady as Waltraute.

It is difficult to fault either the Rhinemaidens or the Norns, although there are better ones elsewhere on record. The chorus is superb, easily among the best to have recorded this opera. The orchestra is also fine, but lacking in the brass.

Böhm's conducting, as with the rest of the cycle, relies mainly on fast tempos, generating a lot of surface tension. But he does not generally delve into the music and bring out the full emotive power and force of it. The great variety of color, the light and shade of the frequently seems to escapes him. One gets a sense that Böhm really does not have a feel for this music, as Solti, Furtwängler, Krauss or Knappertsbusch do. As with the rest of the cycle the sound is good, but lacks detail. It is a very good recording, worth hearing for Nilsson especially, but Solti is likely to give you a far greater impression of Götterdämmerung.

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