Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Mödl, Windgassen, Hotter, Resnik, Vinay, Greindl, Neidlinger, Uhde; Keilberth. Bayreuth, 1953
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The years after the reopening of the Bayreuth Festival after World War II would prove to be some of the greatest in the storied history of Bayreuth. Wieland Wagner brought in fresh talent and made stars out of the likes of Martha Mödl, Wolfgang Windgassen and others. This particular Cycle is an incredibly valuable document for many reasons not least of which it captures Martha Mödl in the relatively shorty window where she was unfettered by vocal crises. That is not to see that there aren’t moments when her voice seems to buckle under the pressure but she more than makes up for it by delivering one of the most human Brünnhildes I have ever come across. She plays beautifully off of the Wotan of Hans Hotter and the two create magic in the last act of Die Walküre. A fresh-voiced Wolfgang Windgassen sings Siegfried. His interpretation would deepen as his career progressed but no where else does he sound as youthful and fearless in this, the most difficult of all tenor roles. Other highlights of this set include the unexpected Sieglinde of Regina Resnik, paired with fellow fach-straddler, Ramón Vinay as Siegmund. Joseph Keilberth leads a varied and dynamic reading. Moreover there is a sense of intimacy in this performance that really sets it apart from any other Ring that I have heard. The sound is excellent.