Wagner: Die Walküre - Nilsson, Hotter, Rysanek, Windgassen, Resnik; Klobucar. Wien, 1965
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An all-star cast, captured in fine sound, makes this Die Walküre an indispensable performance. From the first meeting of Wolfgang Windgassen and Leonie Rysanek as Siegmund and Sieglinde to the farewell between Hans Hotter and Birgit Nilsson as Wotan and Brünnhilde, this is almost a benchmark recording of Wagnerian singing. It’s rather late in the day for Hotter, who audibly tires in Act III, but no one could perform this role quite like him, especially when paired with Birgit Nilsson, who is in excellent form. Windgassen has less baritonal blasting power than most Siegmunds, but he uses his keenly-edged instrument beautifully in a shimmering Winterstürme. Rysanek’s Sieglinde is often sharp, but her dramatic fire and powerful instrument excuse any errors in pitch. Regina Resnik’s harridan of a Fricka uses her short role for maximum impact, and the Valkyries, lead by Lotte Rysanek (Leonie’s sister) as Helmwige are unusually good. Only Walter Kreppel’s puny Hunding disappoints. Berislav Klobucar gives a taut reading of the score, and the Wiener Philharmoniker is, as usual, peerless. The only serious flaw is a few minutes of missing orchestral music just before the Todesverkündigung.