Richard Wagner: The Ring Of The Nibelung

Richard Wagner: The Ring Of The Nibelung

Editorial Review
Furtwängler's 1953 Ring cycle, recorded "live" in the RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) studios, one act at a time, for broadcast purposes, is remastered here from the original tapes, in contrast to vinyl pressings used for the original 1972 EMI LP release. The noted Wagnerian scholar Deryck Cooke best characterized the great conductor's view of this magnum opus as a "stark, heavy, brooding work, a profound tragedy set in a primitive world of ancient Teutonic gods and heroes, to whom every action and event is of the utmost existential importance." Not even the boxy sonics or less-than-world-class RAI wind and brass sections diminish the impact of Furtwängler's gripping leadership. Even when tempos appear unusually slow, the conductor's rhythmic underpinning and sixth sense for sustaining long lines keep the dramatic intensity afloat. While Furtwängler's livelier 1950 La Scala Ring boasts better orchestral playing, his RAI Ring is more consistently cast. Standouts include Windgassen's expansive Siegmund, Mödl's attentive Brünnhilde, Patzak's truly sung (as opposed to cackled) Mime, Suthaus's virile Siegfried, Jurinac's ruby-tinged Gutrune, and Greindl's best-vocalized Hagen extant. A banded synopsis is included in lieu of texts. --Jed Distler
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