Review by Constantijn Blondel|
This recording of the Ring-cycle is my personal favorite. Böhm is a
genious in managing to bring unbearable tension at a speedy pace. His
reading is warm and totally integrated. There is never a moment when
one wonders what sense a particular passage makes in the context of
the rest. It is also remarkable that the orchestra makes virtually no
mistakes even though they have to play the complex notes at a high
pace. The combination of Böhm's interpretation with the great singers
gives on the experience that the voices are speaking rather than
singing...it's in my opinion the closest one can come to the unreachable
ideal of realizing a music drama on stage.
The cast is all-star. I have read that some people think of Theo Adam
as a bit wobbly, but personally it never occured to me. He is firm and
brings out - as no other Wotan I know - the true nobility of the God,
instead of the more conventional 'authority and anguish'.
Birgit Nilsson is my only true Brünnhilde. Her incredible cleaving
voice gives the part everything it needs and her great stamina makes
for the most convincing immolation scene I know of. She IS Brünnhilde,
in every aspect.
Wolfgang Windgassen doubles as first Loge, which he sings as a character
who seems to regard the crises of the Gods as 'rather funny and amusing',
and of course his main role is Siegfried. I have to confess that I'm a
great fan of Windgassen's and I know that his voice was in even better
shape on, for example, the recording of the cycle by Clemens Krauss
(1953), but the 'thinning' of his voice is matched by a very strong
characterization. It seems to me that Nilsson and Windgassen brought
out the very best and more in each other. I love Lauritz Melchior, but
Windgassen stays the best Siegfried in my opinion, youthful and full of
Erwin Wohlfahrt is a neurotic Mime with his maniac laughing at the end
of Act I. Two other stars are James King's Siegmund and Leonie Rysanek's
Sieglinde. James King is in my opinion ideal as Siegmund. He possesses a
lyrical voice which also has a little heroic undertone that works, all
in all, great. His 'Wälse Wälse' is also the longest and most impressive
I know of. Leonie Rysanek also has the ideal voice for Sieglinde. It's
warm, powerful with sometimes a slight undertone of hysteria (which
suits the part I think) and I play the entire third scene of Act I a lot,
just to hear the two of them sing (not to mention the delirious orchestral
ending of the act).
Josef Greindl is in good voice as Hagen. Dark and powerful and sometimes
terrifying. Gustav Neidlinger is in my opinion the best Alberich ever. He
is also one of the few Alberichs that really sings the part!
All in all, this is a not-to-be-missed recording with nothing but
high-points. The only point of criticism is maybe Vera Soupokova as Erda,
who has a terrible voice, but this is minor.