Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Varnay, Hotter, Nilsson, Aldenhoff, Windgassen, Vinay, Grümmer, Greindl; Knappertsbusch, 1957
Listen to a Sample:
- Hans Knappertsbusch was a conductor who thrived in the theater. The few studio recordings he made do not come even close to replicating the completely immersive experience he could create from a pit. He is aided with one of the finest orchestras in the history or opera. Every gesture from the strings, no matter how complex, comes across so clear you could take melodic dictation from it.
- Astrid Varnay sings all three Brünnhildes and meets the unique demands of each opera with flawless precision and seemingly unlimited vocal power.
- Bernd Aldenhoff and Wolfgang Windgassen split the role of Siegfried. Although this can often be a little jarring continuity-wise, both singers approach this role from the same lyrical perspective.
- If two great tenors in a Ring Cycle weren't enough for you, Ludwig Suthaus, a noted Siegfried as well, shows how a great tenor in the role of Loge can elevate that part. Hans Hotter has some rough patches throughout the cycle, but he doesn't let that distract him conveying the complicated nature and moral ambiguity of Wotan with distinction.
- A young Birgit Nilsson excels as Sieglinde. As much as I love her Brünnhilde, it is regrettable that her subsequent domination of that part meant that she rarely returned to this role.
- And if three great tenors weren't enough, we get a fourth in the form of Ramón Vinay as Siegmund, a role that proves to be a perfect fit for his baritonal tenor.
- Elisabeth Grümmer nearly steals the show in her cameos as Freia and Gutrune.
- None to mention.