Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Jones, Cox, McIntyre, Ridderbusch, King; Stein. Bayreuth, 1975
Listen to a Sample:
You may be asking why you need another Ring Cycle and the answer is quite simple: Horst Stein. Stein was a conductor who never really rose to the top but, in my opinion, deserves a place next to the great Wagnerian interpreters of his day. Stein’s approach was unfussy and free of mannerisms which in the era of Karajan and Knappertsbusch is quite refreshing. Instead, he brought a keen ear to the musical line and manages to shape even some of the most bombastic music into lyrical melodies. This approach seems to benefit the singers enormously. The tempos are fleet while remaining elastic and whereas many conductors get lured in by the detail of the orchestration, the vocal line remains for Stein the driving force of the music. His efforts benefit enormously from a stellar cast including Gwyneth Jones as Brünnhilde, Jean Cox as Siegmund Karl Ridderbusch as Fasolt, Hunding and Hagen and James King as Siegmund. The sound for the most part is also quite good with one caveat: During Rheingold and Götterdämmerung the music occasionally jumps a second. These moments are indeed jarring but are rather infrequent in the context of the whole opera.