WAGNER: Das Rheingold
John Tomlinson (Wotan); Bodo Brinkmann (Donner); Kurt Schreibmayer (Froh);Graham Clark (Loge); Günter von Kannen (Alberich); Helmut Pampuch (Mime); Matthias Hölle (Fasolt); Philip Kang (Fafner); Linda Finnie (Fricka); Eva Johansson (Freia); Birgitta Svendén (Erda); Woglinde (Hilde Leidland); Annette Küttenbaum (Wellgunde); Jane Turner (Flosshilde); Bayreuth Festival Orch/Daniel Barenboim, cond.
WARNER CLASSICS DVD VIDEO R2 62318 TT: 154 min.
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WAGNER: Die Walküre
Poul Elming (Siegmund); Nadine Secunde (Sieglinde); Matthias Hölle (Hunding); John Tomlinson (Wotan); Anne Evans (Brünnhilde); Linda Finnie (Fricka/Siegrune); Eva Johansson (Gerhilde); Ruth Floeren (Ortlinde); Shirley Close (Waltraute); Hitomi Katagiri (Schwertleite); Eva-Maria Bundschuh (Helmwige); Birgitta Svendén (Grimgerde); Hebe Dijkstra (Rosweise); Bayreuth Festival Orch/Daniel Barenboim, cond.
WARNER CLASSICS DVD VIDEO R2 62319 (2 disks) TT: 237 min.
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WAGNER: Siegfried
Siegfried Jerusalem (Siegfried); Anne Evans (Brünnhilde); Graham Clark (Mime); John Tomlinson (Der Wanderer); Günter von Kannen (Alberich); Philip Kang (Fafner); Brigitta Svendén (Erda); Hilde Leidland (Waldvogel); Bayreuth Festival Orch/Daniel Barenboim, cond.
WARNER CLASSICS DVD VIDEO R2 62320 (2 disks) TT: 244 min.
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Recently on this site we gave a positive review of Götterdämmerung from the early 1990s Bayreuth presentation of Wagner's Ring—in spite of director's decision at the end of the Immolation Scene to have a group of scanatilly-clad misfits watch the destruction of the world on TV sets (see REVIEW). Here are the first three parts of Wagner's masterpiece and again Harry Kupfer's challenging approach impresses for its many fine points. There is much to admire here, in spite of some quirky directoral concepts. The director became more bizarre in his production more than a decade later at the Gran Theatre del Liceu (reviewed on this site: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung). This earlier Ring is essential viewing. The singing is uniformly fine, sometimes extraordinary. John Tomlinson's sensitive but strong Wotan/Wanderer is near ideal. Poul Elming is a magnificent Siegmund in every way, truly an exciting performance vocally and dramatically (why haven't we heard more from him?). Siegfried Jerusalem, then in his prime, is outstanding in the killer role of Siegfried, matched by Anne Evans as Brünnhilde in the demanding Act III finale (although both of them are over-directed). Laser lights are used effectively throughout this production, and visually it is always compelling. Without question this is one of Daniel Barenboim's finest recordings; his sensitive yet powerful concept, beautifully played by the Bayreuth Orchestra, is magnificent. Sonically this Bayreuth Ring is stunning, beautifully capturing the rich acoustics of the theater, voices perfectly balanced with the orchestra. If you prefer a "standard" approach to the Ring, investigate the Met 1990 DGGT set conducted by James Levine which offers Otto Schenk's standard staging approach to The Ring, strongly cast highlighted by James Morris as Wotan/Wanderer.

R.E.B. (May 2007)

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