Wagner: Götterdämmerung - Nilsson, Windgassen, Frick, Stewart, Collier, Kraus, Jones, Hunter; Solti. London, 1963
Listen to a Sample:
Look familiar? This performance in 1963 was probably a dry run for the upcoming Decca recording as it sports many of the same performers. Birgit Nilsson was in great form this evening. She said that she felt that Solti's insistence on taking many different takes for the recording robbed the performance of its spontaneity. Captured on stage, she seems more in her element and delivers an truly moving performance. When discussing Nilsson, many choose to focus on her magnificent voice (as they should). This performance reminds us that she was also a great interpreter and gave enormous attention to shaping the musical line and giving nuance to the text. She was more than a pretty voice. Wolfgang Windgassen may not have had the prettiest voice but he knew how to sing Wagner better than anyone at the time and since. If you need proof, listen to his magnificent High C in Act III. He and Nilsson seem to have true chemistry together. Gottlob Frick may have had the blackest bass voice I have ever heard. His Hagen is terrifying, cunning and at times charming. As for the Gibiches, one could not hope for a better Gutrune than Marie Collier or Gunther of Thomas Stewart (I prefer him to Fischer-Dieskau.) Gwyneth Jones and Rita Hunter, at the beginning of their careers, get the chance to get their Wagnerian feet wet in the roles of Wellgunde and the Third Norn. And it should come to a surprise to absolutely no one that Sir Georg Solti commands a superb performance from the ensemble. The sound is very good.