Studio recording in stereo from
Festspielhaus Bayreuth
Conductor: Pierre Boulez
Siegfried Manfred Jung
Mime Heinz Zednik
Brünnhilde Gwyneth Jones
Wanderer Donald McIntyre
Alberich Hermann Becht
Fafner Fritz Hübner
Erda Ortrun Wenkel
Waldvogel Norma Sharp
Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Philips, 434 423-2 3 CDs DDD
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Review by Henrik Boman

Pierre Boulez as a modern composer conducts Wagner, and makes great music. When I first heard this recording I was disappointed: the sound is a little weak, the stage machinery makes a lot of noise, and some of singers were terrible. But after listening to Boulez' Die Walküre I realised the greatness in this recording of Siegfried.

Boulez' conducting caught my interest. A modern version of Wagner, in much the opposite of the Old Tradition (here meaning after WWII, the Solti tradition) a soft and gentle orchestra, stripped down to the essence of music. Boulez' tempi is quit fast, not as Böhm's, but close. According to Boulez, the music should give the tempi, the conductor should seek the 'internal tempi' of music and I think Boulez manages quit well, if not to say excellently. By others a broad tempi is often used to point out the heaviness of the music. Boulez uses the light tempi to convince the listener of the air in the music, the air to breath when listening. To compare: Boulez' version is 16 minutes shorter than Richter's performance at Bayreuth 1876.

Gwyneth Jones is, as in Die Walküre, superb as Brünnhilde, a softer voice than for instance Eva Marton in Haitink's Ring. Jeannine Altmeyer is a beautiful, and young (her voice and in reality) Sieglinde, a reading as great as her Brünnhilde for Janowski.

Donald McIntyre's Wotan with the soft touch, the whispering god in total command in Die Walküre is turned into a tired, and not constant present god. McIntyre is convincing in Die Walküre but here he is at occasions a bit tired, not only as Der Wanderer but also his voice. Even if Boulez' conducting convinces me, I still can't see Manfred Jung as a great Siegfried. In the first act he's a little bit too similar to Mime, a comic but evil figure in Heinz Zednik's interpretation. In the third Act a little bit too 'old' for the young Siegfried.

In the reading of the score, Boulez tries to touch the core of the music, more interested in what Wagner might have intended with his music than how other conductors read the score. An excellent performance, if you want a different interpretation of Siegfried.