13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Still among the best,
This review is from: Wagner: Die Walküre (Audio CD)
It is fashionable among writers and critics these days to conjure a mild sneer when talking or writing of the Solti Ring Cycle. The fact remains, however, that this recording remains magnificent in every way: Hotter may have sounded younger on other recordings, including the new Testament Bayreuth version, but I don't know that he sounded more intensely moving than he does here; Nilsson is a wonderful and relatively youthful Brunnhilde and although she also sounds splendid for Bohm she is no less outstanding here; James King is an ardent Siegmund, Crespin a most feminine and engaging Sieglinde, Ludwig the outstanding Fricka of her, or anyone else's, day, and Frick the ideal Hunding. The set pieces are predictably fine and the production, particularly of the Siegmund/Hunding battle, is unequalled. Solti delivers a big-scale performance, closer to Knappertsbusch than to Bohm or Krauss, and the Wiener Philharmoniker are just staggeringly good. So, what is the problem for these critics? Well, it is a studio production with 'effects' as designed by Culshaw and his Decca team, but strictly faithful both to the score and Wagner's own stage directions. Frankly, with so many dreadful productions being staged in opera houses around the world, it is refreshing to have one on CD which is so vivid that manages to create a entirely legitimate Wagnerian world in the listener's own imagination, and lets the music do the rest. As to orchestral balance between pit and stage, as it were, anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing the power of a Wagnerian orchestra in most German or Austrian opera houses - with the exception of Bayreuth itself - will know that the Wagner orchestra is indeed a powerful and sometimes overwhelming instrument - and so it is here.