Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Lindholm, Kuchta, Thomas, Stewart, Rysanek, King, Dernesch, Greindl; Maazel. Bayreuth, 1969
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Lorin Maazel offers a sweeping, unapologetically romantic reading in this Der Ring des Nibelungen, highlighting the epic nature of Wagner’s tetrology. He opts for a varied approach to tempos and meticulous attention to detail, incorporating his own editorial choices which for the most part are executed with impeccable musical taste. It doesn’t hurt that he has a first rate cast of singers. Berit Lindholm is in superb voice as the Walküre and Siegfried Brünnhildes, particularly distinguishing herself in her brief but punishing appearance in Siegfried. Gladys Kuchta assumes the Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde and manages even the most dramatic passages without sacrificing the beauty of her sterling soprano. Jess Thomas is in excellent voice as Siegfried. Although signs of strain tend to emerge during the most dramatic passages, he sings with remarkable sweetness during the many lyrical passages, in particular during the “forest murmurs” in Act II of Siegfried. Thomas Stewart brings glamor and majesty to the role of Wotan as well as Gunther in Götterdämmerung. Leonie Rysanek and James King offer some real star-power as Siegmund and Sieglinde. Janis Martin is a lush Fricka, and veteran bass Josef Greindl stands out as Hagen. Gerhard Stolze is in superb form as Mime, Wolfgang Windgassen is a puckish yet dignified Loge and we are spoiled by the Gutrune of Helga Dernesch. The recording is in excellent stereo sound.
Ring Cycles just don’t get much better than this…