…If your taste leans towards Austro-German late-Romantic music and you are, perhaps, also enjoying CPO’s superb on-going Weingartner series then this SACD is a must. It certainly deserves a top recommendation.
This first complete studio recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, made between 1958 and 1966, was a groundbreaking technical and artistic achievement, the most ambitious and intricately involved opera recording project of the 20th century. Produced for Decca by John Culshaw, whose vision and untiring devotion brought the gargantuan project to completion, the 14 ½-hour release set a new standard for opera recordings. The details Culshaw lavished on the production, which included building new musical instruments, precisely calculating the placement and choreography of each singer to maximize the theatricality of each scene, and creating an array of fabulous special effects resulted in a landmark recording that has lost none of its power with the passage of time.
"Musikalisch dichte, klanglich prächtig ausbalancierte und das Primat der Sänger wahrende Aufnahme, deren Schönheit aus der Gesamtwirkung resultiert…Im Gesamteindruck setzt diese Aufnahme große Wagner-Tradition mit großer Bestimmtheit und Überzeugungskraft fort." ~Hermes Opernlexikon
Wagner at The Met is the first authorized release of Richard Wagner's operatic masterpieces, including the complete Ring Cycle, captured live in historic broadcasts from The Metropolitan Opera.
Not being a lifelong Wagner devotee, I'm not sure if this particular performance has been released before or not, but I do know that it was included in a 2013 9-title release of Wagner operas recorded live from The Met from 1937 through 1954.
Why this performance? 3 words: Flagstad, Melchior, Huehn. I would add to that Leinsdorf, especially since the recording quality is so bad; his faster-than-the-norm tempi help cut through the densely muddy sound quality.
In Richard Wagner’s 'Ring of the Nibelung', the first act of 'Die Walküre' takes up a special place. The love-triangle of the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde and the ominous Hunding stands out in the context of this tetralogy because it possesses its own dramatic tension and self-enclosed trajectory within what is otherwise such a complex, richly interconnected series of works. In musical terms it goes from one climax to the next, from the turbulent orchestral prelude through to Siegmund’s love song “Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond” and the passionate union of the sibling couple. At the most recent production at the Vienna State Opera, the twins were sung by Nina Stemme and – for the first time in the role – Johan Botha.
This recording provides us with the opportunity to hear an opera that has been infrequently performed in this century. The performance also marks an early collaboration of José Carreras and Katia Ricciarelli, two of the biggest "young stars" of their generation. Kendall Clark.