WAGNER: Götterdämmerung
Astrid Varnay (Brünnhilde); Wolfgang Windgassen (Siegfried); Hermann Uhde (Gunther); Maria von Ilosvay (Waltraute/First Norn); Gustav Neidlinger (Alberich);Josef Greindl (Hagen); Gré Brouwenstijn (Gutrune); Jutta Vulpius (Woglinde); Elisabeth Schärtel (Wellgunde); Maria Graf (Flosshilde); Georgine von Milinkovic (Second Norn); Mina Bolotine (Third Norn); Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orch/Joseph Keilberth, cond.
TESTAMENT SBT4 1393 (4 CDS) (F) TT: 58:58 / 56:12 / 65:28 / 77:14
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JOHANN STRAUSS: Voices of Spring/Tales from the Vienna Woods. Mein Herr Marquis/Spiel ich die Unschuld vom Land from Die Fledermaus. SAINT-SAËNS: The Nightingale and the Rose. VERDI: Lo Spazzocamino. GODARD: Berceuse from Jocelyn. ARDITI: Parla Waltz. SUPPÉ: Hab ich nur deine Liebe from Boccaccio. DVORÁK: Lied an den Mond from Rusalka. MEYERBEER: Schattentanz from Dinorah.
Rita Streich, soprano; Berlin Radio Symphony Orch/Kurt Gaebel, cond.
DGG 477 6542 TT: 52:20
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"Russian Romances and Folk Songs"
Boris Christoff, bass; Michael Achilles/Jürgen Brüggebors, flute; Gaston Maugras, oboe; Hervé le Flech/Peter Heidrich, violin; Emilia Baranowska/Jean-Marie Gamard, cello; Balalaika Orch/D. Liakoff, cond.
DGG 477 6539 TT: 43:31
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WAGNER: Excerpts from Rienzi, Tristan und Isolde, Siegfried, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, and Die Meistersinger
Wolfgang Windgassen, tenor; Orch/Richard Kraus, Ferdinand Leitner and Leopold Ludwig, cond.
DGG 477 6543 TT: 58:35
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METROPOLITAN OPERA GALA - Sir Rudolf Bing
Music of Verdi, Puccini, Richard Strauss, Mozart, and Johann Strauss
Martina Arroyo, Montserrat Caballé, Birgit Nilsson, Leontyne Price, Teresa Zylis-Gara, sopranos; Regina Resnik, mezzo-soprano; Placido Domingo, Franco Corelli, Richard Tucker, tenors; Robert Merrill, baritone; Metropolitan Opera Orch/Richard Bonynge, James Levine, Karl Böhm, Francesco Milinari-Pradelli, and Kurt Adler, cond.
DGG 477 6540 TT: 58:20
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This Götterdämmerung, like the rest of The Ring recorded at the 1955 Bayreuth Festival, is a stunning reminder of the quality of Wagner singing at the time. And it has been recorded with uncommon clarity by Decca's John Culshaw who has achieved a remarkable balance between singers and orchestra. It's expensive - four full-price disks, but essential for those who love Wagner. A complete libretto in German and English is provided, along with profuse program notes. A quality, and important, issue!

Three important mid-price reissues feature exquisite coloratura soprano Rita Streich, bass Boris Christoff, and heldentenor Wolfgang Windgassen, all recorded when the singers were in their prime. Streich (1920-1987) was chosen by Herbert von Karajan to sing Zerbinetta in his 1954 recording of Ariadne auf Naxos. On this CD we hear her in lighter repertory recorded in 1958, all sung to perfection. Her singing of The Nightingale and The Rose is reason enough to have this CD which, unfortunately, has rather short playing time (52:20) as it contains only material on the original LP. All of these have been issued before, but most previous releases have been deleted. Bulgarian-born bass Boris Christoff (1914-1993) was a magnificent presence on stage, particularly known for his Boris Godunov. Other operas in which he excelled include a A Life for the Tsar, Faust, Ivan the Terrible, Don Carlo and Mefistofele. This new issue offers his 1977 LP of much lighter repertory, accompanied by a balalaika ensemble and several solo instruments. Worth investigating, although playing time is only 43:31. Wolfgang Windgassen (1914-1974) sang all of the major Wagner roles at Bayreuth from 1951 to 1970; excerpts from many of these are included on this CD, monophonic recordings made from 1953-1955 with various orchestras and conductors.

DGG has released on CD contents of the original LP issue of highlights from the Metropolitan Opera Gala honoring Sir Rudolf Bing, recorded April 22, 1972, the last night of his 22-year reign as manager of the Met. Many leading singers and conductors of the era paid tribute to him in excerpts from Il trovatore, Manon Lescaut, Salome, Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Fledermaus, La Forza del Destino, and Otello. It seems odd more music isn't included—doubtless the entire program was recorded, and this release would be more attractive with more of these special performances. However, for many this mid-price release is worthy of having just for the opportunity to hear Franco Corelli (with Teresa Zylis-Gara) in the love duet from Otello, a role he never recorded. Excellent sound.

R.E.B. (April 2007)