Wagner: Die Walküre - Varnay, Hotter, Nilsson, Vinay, Greindl; Knappertsbusch. Bayreuth, 1957
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Any recording from Bayreuth in the 1950s is almost a guaranteed gem. Despite the fact that Germany was trying to rebuild itself, Bayreuth enjoyed an embarrassment of riches in the form of singers like Astrid Varnay, Ramón Vinay, Hans Hotter and Birgit Nilsson. This recording is of particular interest because it marks one of the few times that Nilsson sang Sieglinde. The role may not be the same fit that Brünnhilde was, but she nonetheless sounds glorious. Ramon Vinay is her Siegmund, and brings a burnished baritonal quality to the role. Astrid Varnay, as Brünnhilde, sings with clarity and ease. It should come to no surprise that Hans Knappertsbusch's conducting is on the broad side of the spectrum, but, as always, he is able to slow down time without letting the music get too heavy. The sound is excellent.