Wagner: Das Rheingold - Stewart, Martin, Windgassen, Stolze, Ridderbusch, Dernesch; Maazel. Bayreuth, 1969
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The cast of this recording of Das Rheingold is about as good as it gets. Thomas Stewart’s impeccable Wotan embodies all of the young gods’ charisma and bravado and he sings with exquisite refinement. Janis Martin’s lush Fricka adds a sensual side to a character who more often than not can descend into parody. Wolfgang Windgassen seems to enjoy the opportunity to scale back his ample tenor, delivering Loges’ lines with a conversational ease that his normal diet of roles rarely afforded him. Helga Dernesch’s oppulent soprano helps give Freia a little bit more dramatic substance than the central-casting “damsel in distress” that most sopranos default to. In his brief appearance as Mime, Gerhard Stolze manages to steal the scene. Karl Ridderbusch is an eloquent Fasolt and Gustav Neidlinger’s legendary Alberich is as good as ever. Lorin Maazel brings attention to the many musical details as well as an astute sense for dramatic pacing.