Live recording in mono from
Festspielhaus Bayreuth
August 9, 1953
Conductor: Clemens Krauss
Siegmund Ramón Vinay
Sieglinde Regina Resnik
Wotan Hans Hotter
Brünnhilde Astrid Varnay
Hunding Josef Greindl
Fricka Ira Malaniuk
Gerhilde Brünnhild Friedland
Ortlinde Bruni Falcon
Waltraute Lise Sorrell
Schwertleite Maria von Ilosvay
Helmwige Liselotte Thomamüller
Siegrune Gisela Litz
Grimgerde Sibylla Plate
Roßweiße Erika Schubert
Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Gala, GL 100.652 4 CDs ADD
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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 their voices.

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 way.

The Krauss Ring is highly recommended, the Walküre being the most outstanding of the operas in Krauss' Ring.