Studio recording in mono
September 28-October 6, 1954
|Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler|
|Sieglinde|| ||Leonie Rysanek|
|Wotan|| ||Ferdinand Frantz|
|Brünnhilde|| ||Martha Mödl|
|Hunding|| ||Gottlob Frick|
|EMI, CHS 7 63045 2
Review by Charles E. Muntz|
In 1954 EMI began a recording of Wagner's Ring with the great German
conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. Sadly, they only recorded Die Walküre
before Furtwängler died and a complete Ring would have to wait until
1965 when Solti finished his legendary cycle.
The Walküre he did leave is in good, clear mono sound with a reasonable
amount of orchestral detail. The sound is vastly superior to both
Furtwängler's recording with the RAI Orchestra in Rome and Krauss’ live
Ring from Bayreuth, both in 1953. The Vienna Philharmonic is likewise
leagues ahead of the Rome forces and even the Bayreuth Orchestra of the
For Brünnhilde, Furtwängler had Martha Mödl, a fine dramatic soprano of
the day. She provides an intelligent, well thought out portrayal of the
Valkyrie. She can not rival Nilsson or Flagstad, but she is pretty good.
Her main problem is that she sometimes over-emphasizes a phrase.
Wotan is sung be Ferdinand Frantz. I’ve often wondered why Furtwängler
did not choose the greatest Wotan of the day, Hans Hotter. Frantz is a
strong Wotan, nonetheless, but he can not rival Hotter. Still, he is
better than any of today’s Wotans.
For the Volsung twins Furtwängler had Ludwig Suthaus, who sang Tristan
for him in 1952, and Leonie Rysanek. Sieglinde was one of Rysanek’s
signature roles and here one can here why. Her understanding and
excellence of singing has been matched by very few. Suthaus is strong
and reliable as Siegmund, although at times he does not really show a
firm grasp of character.
The minor roles are all well taken. Margarete Klose is an experienced,
waspish Fricka. Gottlob Frick is appropriately evil and sly as Hagen.
The Valkyries are all excellent.
It is difficult to describe Furtwängler's conducting. Many have
described him as one of the greatest Wagner conductors ever, but he
has had his detractors as well, most notably Ernest Newman, the father
of modern English Wagner criticism. His interpretation is dark,
brooding, with great power and conviction. He obviously feels the
music very deeply, but I think it needs a more dramatic hand. But it
is still a very remarkable recording and my second favorite Walküre
(Solti is my first).
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.