Wagner: Die Walküre - Crespin, Stewart, Vickers, Janowitz, Veasey; Karajan. Salzburg, 1968
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Collaborating with the same cast he used when he made his landmark studio recording a year prior, Karajan is caught in exemplary form in this live performance from Salzburg in 1968. If the Ride of the Valkyries is unexpectedly turbulent or Act I is a bit too slow, the evocative performances Karajan drives from his principals and from the Berliner Philharmoniker make up for any bumps along the way. Heard in a live performance, Jon Vickers’ Seigmund is as good as the role gets. Near-feral and totally beaten down at the start of the opera, he comes alive when Sieglinde (Gundula Janowitz, lovely to hear but a touch placid) offers him her love. Régine Crespin’s Brünnhilde is likewise electric in this atmosphere, and the performance’s crowning glory would be the Todesverkündigung if it were not for Thomas Stewart’s gut-wrenching performance of Wotan’s monologue.