Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Lindholm, Cox, Ward, McIntyre, Veasey, Shirley; Davis, Goodall. London, 1974 - 1976
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With the memory of Georg Solti’s legendary performances at Covent Garden still fresh in the public’s mind, Sir Colin Davis certainly had some big shoes to fill. In the end, what he produces is an interesting counterargument to Solti’s fiery take on the cycle and, in my opinion, stands up to his predecessor, although in different ways. What struck me most after listening to the whole cycle was the prodigious length (a full 15 discs) which is odd because as I was listening to it it didn’t strike me as being overly slow. This is because Davis manages to slow down the pulse of the music without robbing the line of its musical direction and, in doing so, finds details that would be lost at a quicker tempo. I should point out now that the Rheingold is conducted by Reginald Goodall. It should come as no surprise that Goodall’s tempi are even more broad than Davis’. Goodall benefits from the superior forces of the Covent Garden orchestra and the overall effect is more satisfying than the E.N.O. recordings he made around the same time. The cast is quite good. Berit Lindholm is a spirited Brünnhilde. The voice may not have had the same access to the top that it had in the 60s, but the color has taken a darker, lusher hue which is a fair trade off. Jean Cox is a virile Siegfried and paces himself through the killer role remarkably. The one draw back is that the overall tone of his voice lacks beauty. On the other hand, Richard Cassilly, as Siegmund, demonstrates what a real heldentenor should sound like (it is a shame that Cassilly never sang Siegfried as he likely would have owned the part.) Donald McIntyre sounds as good as he would ever sound as Wotan (David Ward sings the Rheingold Wotan). There is no shortage of great singing in any of the smaller parts either including Georges Shirley as Loge, Robert Tear as Froh, Matti Salminen as Fafner, Robert Lloyd as Fasolt, Norma Burrows as the Waldvogel, and Pauline Tinsley, Elizabeth Connell and Patricia Payne as a stellar trio of Norns. The sound is generally very good.