Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Ligendza, Adam, Cox, Jones, Brilioth; Stein. Bayreuth, 1971
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In a world where Wagner fans have become accustomed to tolerating middle aged, overweight singers playing young heroes and heroines, this recording is a much welcome change of pace as the entire cast produces one of the most youthful Rings I have ever heard. And although at times we have to forgo the power that Nilsson or Flagstad brought to their roles, it is more than made up for by the verisimilitude that these singers bring to their parts. As Brünnhilde, Catarina Ligendza brings a pure tone with no shortage of power, and miraculously bridges the naive quality of the Walküre Brünnhilde with the sensuality of the Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde into a cohesive and complete character. She is particularly effective in the tender scenes with Wotan in Act III of Walküre and undaunted by the dramatic demands of Act II of Götterdämmerung. Theo Adam’s Wotan was always on the baritonal side of the spectrum which works to his advantage in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. You really get this sense that this young god is making everything up as he goes along. Jean Cox sings as well as I have ever heard him, highlighting the lyricism of the part. Gwyneth Jones is a sensual Sieglinde and well paired with the vocally (and physically) dashing Siegmund of Helge Brilioth. Karl Ridderbusch shows up in many different roles throughout the cycle most notably as Hagen. Franz Mazura, Janis Martin and Anna Reynolds round out the cast as Gunther, Freia and Fricka respectively. Horst Stein seems inspired by the youthful cast and delivers an energetic reading. The sound is excellent.