Wagner: Die Walküre - Lindholm, McIntyre, Napier, Cassilly, Veasey, Sotin; Davis. London, 1974
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Sir Georg Solti’s legendary reign at the Royal Opera House in London became the stuff of legend which unfortunately meant some large shoes for his predecessor to fill upon his departure. That task fell to Sir Colin Davis. The beginning for Davis wasn’t easy particularly when his Wagner conducting was compared with his predecessor. Fortunately, his esteem increased as he grew into the job becoming a beloved figure of the company. It is heartening to see that since his passing he has started to garner the attention that he deserves. Davis brings great attention to the details of Wagner’s orchestration in this performance of Die Walküre, but what is abundantly clear was that this man was a singer’s conductor. The pace he sets is just in that comfort zone where the singers have a chance to get the words out at an organic pace giving many of the monologues almost a conversational quality. He is aided by some excellent singing actors. Berit Lindholm as Brünnhilde brings an athletic approach to the role coupled with a sensual smoky soprano. Donald McIntyre’s Wotan lacks a little in suavity but makes up for it in gravitas. It is worth pointing out that in 1974 he was in much fresher voice than when he recorded the set for Phillips in the early 80s. It is nice to hear the lyric sheen of Richard Cassilly’s Siegmund although he probably could have benefited from checking in with a voice teacher as the pitch has a tendency to sag. Marita Napier delivers an impassioned, if somewhat rough, Sieglinde. Josephine Veasey and Hans Sotin sing Fricka and Hunding, respectively, and if that weren’t enough luxury casting for you, the Valklyries include the likes of Pauline Tinsley, Ava June and Heather Begg. The sound is very good.