Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Excerpts) - Nilsson, Hopf, Hotter, Brouwenstijn, Uhl, Boese; Wallberg. Buenos Aires, 1962
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With Birgit Nilsson, Hans Hotter, Hans Hopf, and Gré Brouwenstijn in the titles roles, fans of great singing will certainly not be disappointed by this admirable, yet somewhat flawed, Ring Cycle. It is disappointing mostly due to the orchestra whose playing is at times scrappy. It is also clear that they are playing from a reduction which detracts from some of the bigger, brassy moments. But the Cycle is redeemed by some breathtaking singing. Birgit Nilsson was just hitting her stride in 1962 and she is unstoppable as Brünnhilde. Although she would continue to grow into the role interpretively, vocally she is at her absolute zenith. Wotan finds Hans Hotter at the tail-end of his vocal prime, but with still enough vocal prowess to deliver a multi-faceted Wotan who is both imposing and sensitive. Hans Hopf’s baritonal Siegfried fares better in the dramatic sections than the lyrical. Gré Brouwenstijn’s radiant sopranos is put to good use as Sieglinde, Gutrune and the Third Norn. Fritz Uhl is a rather bland Siegmund but comes alive as Loge. Heinz Wallberg is certainly not a name that comes to mind when considering the great Wagnerian conductors, but his approach to Der Ring des Nibelungen is both fresh and inventive. He favors leisurely tempos (perhaps a practical consideration to accommodate the limitations of the band he had to deal with) and seems to understand when the orchestra should be in the foreground and when in the background. The sound is quite good.