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One That Fell Between The Cracks,
This review is from: Wagner: Die Walküre (Audio CD)
The origins of this splendid 1961 recording of Die Walküre are a bit of a muddle. In the late 1950's and early 1960's RCA made a deal with Decca/London wherein each would make a few recordings for the other. So an RCA recording would appear on Decca and vice versa. This recording was made by Decca and first appeared on RCA . In the 1970's it reverted back to Decca/London. As Solti, Bohm and von Karajan made their way through their Ring cycles this performance under Leinsdorf was largely forgotten.
It is a bracing one that fully partakes of the drama of the score and deftly paces itself to let the action unfold naturally. Leinsdorf's ear for detail is a plus in that unfolding providing subtle details that comment on the drama.
The opening 20 or so minutes of Act III are simply superb. All to often many conductors slacken up after the first 5 or 6 minutes of this act but Leinsdorf does not. The result is the confrontation of Wotan with Brunhilde and the Valkyries sustaining an air of tension that few have been able to hold. With a cast containing Brouwenstijn, Vickers and Nilsson there is no worry as to vocal quality. The stand out though is George London's Wotan. He manages to convey the many contradictory aspects of the character that few have managed to capture. This is not a single personality but a multiple one that London deftly winds his way through. Very fine recording making it hard to believe it is from 1961. The packaging is slim line and simple with a striking cover. Notes and synopsis are included and the texts can be downloaded from disc 2. I had not heard this performance in some 25 years and rehearing it was a very pleasent surprise.