Studio recording in stereo from
Festspielhaus Bayreuth
Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
Siegmund Poul Elming
Sieglinde Nadine Secunde
Wotan John Tomlinson
Brünnhilde Anne Evans
Hunding Matthias Hölle
Fricka Linda Finnie
Gerhilde Eva Johansson
Ortlinde Ruth Floeren
Waltraute Shirley Close
Schwertleite Hitomi Katagiri
Helmwige Eva-Maria Bundschuh
Siegrune Linda Finnie
Grimgerde Birgitta Svendén
Roßweiße Hebe Dijkstra
Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Teldec, 4509-91186-2 4 CDs DDD
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Review by Henrik Boman

After listening to this recording I realise a new standard for the Ring is set. Barenboim's ring, and especially his Walküre and Götterdämmerung, are the Twilight of the Old Recordings of the Ring. Barenboim's interpretation emerges into a new world - as one of the truly greatest recordings of the Ring ever done. Not meaning it's actually better than the earlier recordings, I love Furtwängler's flowing of music, Solti's temperament and orchestral power, but this is a new way of playing, and listening to the Ring. Barenboim combines the flow, the eternal aspect of the music with the power of the specific scenes into a spectacular performance.

The orchestral sound is great, and different than other Bayreuth recordings. Most significant, as for Barenboim's other Wagner recordings, are the strings, played in large 'field of sound' surrounding the scenes and the listener. They drag you into the music. The way Barenboim treats the rhythm of the different instruments is sensational, Furtwängler and Knappertsbusch changed tempi often, but it didn't affect the rhythm, the eternal flow of the instruments playing together. Maybe the modern technique made it possible to record the Bayreuth sound, lacking in both Böhm's and Boulez' recordings.

The singers are all very good, not the high standard as Birgit Nilsson and Kirsten Flagstad, of course, but the cast is consistent. Poul Elming as Siegmund and John Tomlinson as Wotan are both excellent. The part of Brünnhilde is the most difficult because the spirit of the great Birgit Nilsson flying over the role, but Anne Evans gives her role the life and sweetness necessary for convincing that she is Brünnhilde.

But the really great singer in this cast is John Tomlinson, maybe one of the greatest Wotans ever, if not the Greatest. A god with possibilities to control destiny, but his own will and intentions destroy the world of the gods, masterly put into the role by Tomlinson. The power in his voice is magnificent: listen to the rage when killing Hunding, and the power in the orchestra during the same scene. This is not Neu Bayreuth, this is New Wagner.

The first act, maybe the best ever recorded, even better than Böhm's, is absolutely astonishing. Elming and Secunde are the sister and brother not falling in love but detecting the love they had always known existed. Spring turns into summer then they declare their love to each other. In the second act the 'Totesvergundigung' scene is moving; no listener leaves this scene with his eyes completely try. The power in Wotan's command then killing Hunding is rage, not dispair. The fire curse in third act almost puts the world on fire, even before Siegfried is born.

A truly great recording, recommended to everybody, especially if you're an experienced Wagner listener. To put it in one word: BUY