Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Dernesch, Esser, Vermeersch, Watson, Stamm, Kélémen, Coster, Synek; Wallat. Köln, 1972

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Pros:

  • On paper you wouldn't think that a performance of this caliber could possibly come from a city like Cologne, however the entire company manages to create a Ring that any top opera house in the world could be proud of. The orchestra, in particular, plays with confidence and attention to detail (the odd wrong note notwithstanding) and benefits from an excellent maestro in the form of Hans Wallat.
  • By 1972 it was clear that Helga Dernesch's oppulent soprano was beginning to shift into mezzo territory. Her middle voice had begun to take on a richer and darker quality compared with the collaborations she had with von Karajan in the 1960s. However, she still posessed the technical wherewithall to make this part work for her, and if at times the highest notes in the role seem just out of her grasp, she more than makes up for it with the glorious quality of her tone. And unlike the Karajan Salzburg Ring, she sings all of the Brünnhildes including Die Walküre.
  • Jef Vermeersch is a commanding, yet vocally alluring Wotan.
  • Hermin Esser does remarkably well in the role of Siegfried, particularly when called upon to access his powerful and tireless upper extension.
  • Claire Watson is stunning as Sieglinde.

Cons:

  • There are some brief drop-outs on this recording, presumably where the tape needed to be changed. All of them occur during orchestral interludes thereby keeping the flow of the actual scenes.

In Mono

OD 11685-12

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