Wagner: Die Walküre - McIntyre, Jones, Bode, Hofmann, Randová, Salminen; Boulez. Bayreuth, 1976

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For my money this recording of Die Walküre is much better than the commercial release. My greatest pet peeve with the Boulez's recordings was the pacing; everything was too fast. I welcome a brisk performance of Wagner like anyone else, but there are times when you have to let the audience luxuriate in the music. Boulez does just that in this version and in particular the Act I duet has a languid quality that was missing from the commercial release. That said, his one major sin in this performance is rushing through "O Hehrste Wunder" in Act III nearly leaving poor Hannelore Bode in the dust. By contrast the fire music at the end was about as fast as I have ever heard it conducted, but in so doing Boulez achieves an atmosphere that seems as light as air. The singers are all in excellent form. Gwyneth Jones seems noticeably more comfortable here than she would 5 years later, hurtling out impressively acrobatic hojotohos. Donald McIntyre's voice also sounds a little less leathery as does Peter Hofmann as Siegmund. In the 70s, Hofmann was certainly more than just a pretty face and he reveals an attractive, and stentorian, tenor voice. Hannelore Bode is a disappointment as Sieglinde and Eva Randová is an exciting Fricka bringing to mind Irene Dalis. The sound is excellent.

OD 10747-3

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