Wagner: Siegfried - Thomas, Dernesch, Stolze, Stewart, Ridderbusch, Grist; Karajan. Salzburg, 1969
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This recording of Siegfried is almost identical to the studio release that came out around the same time. Although there is some remarkable singing, the star of the evening is Herbert von Karajan. Karajan's ability to create mood and atmosphere while still maintaining a sense of line and lyricism made him ideal for Wagner. His orchestra, although rich with minute detail and shading, never eclipses the singer, instead providing them with a cushion of support throughout the evening. Jess Thomas is just a little past his prime to be an effective Siegfried. Although he manages all of the notes and his stamina doesn't flag throughout the evening, the lyrical bloom of his early years has all but completely faded resulting in a Siegfried that sounds more middle-aged than teen-aged. Thomas Stewart almost has the reverse problem as the Wanderer as his ringing baritone lacks a little of the world-wary gravitas of other notable Wanderers. However, it is very easy to forgive him, as he delivers one of the most beautifully sung Wotans I have ever come across. Gerhard Stolze delivers a Mime that is almost infinitely nuanced and at times manages to garner more sympathy than Siegfried. The one interesting variation from the DG set is that the Waldvolgel is sung by Reri Grist. The sound is very good.