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on 8 June 2013
Well, I took the plunge. I already have the Solti Ring twice - and the most recent version, especially the blu-ray, is awesome-, I have the Janowski Dresden set, the Böhm Bayreuth set, Elder's Götterdämmerung and Walküre, Levine and Barenboim on CD and the Walkure act1/3 set with Flagstad so I wasn't really in need of another recording but I am preparing a study weekend on Das Rheingold and Die Walküre for the Manchester Wagner Society so I felt that I could justify it. That's my story and I am sticking to it.
Boy, is this one driven! The playing from the LSO is magnificent - well up to the standard of Vienna or Berlin and both crisper and clearer than anything from Bayreuth. (I was lucky enough to see The Ring in Bayreuth a few years ago and the live sound is amazing and not well represented by recording, I think.) There is not a weakness in the cast of this recording. I might have preferred Regine Crespin as Sieglinde and David Ward is a bit too noble for Hunding ( he was magnificent as Wotan in Scottish Opera' first Ring cycle in 1970) but these are counsels of (possible) perfection and that is really what I wanted to write. One may prefer Karajan's sound to Solti's or a live recording to a studio one but we really ought be celebrating the fact that all of these recordings are amazing, splendid achievements and stop the knocking and point scoring. I am going to Longborough for their second Ring cycle at the end of June and to the Proms for Barenboim's cycle from Berlin and I doubt that either performance will field such a cast as we have available on CD but they will be wonderful, exciting, moving, annoying and uplifting - at least, I hope they will!
Most of us came to Wagner through the medium of recording - when I was a student, I could afford the cheap seats to see the Goodall Ring on tour but Covent Garden was beyond my means- and we really should celebrate the very fact of that and enjoy. No performance or recording will ever be perfect for everyone so, please, be a little more generous.
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on 19 November 2015
This is an absolute gem. The sound is lustrous and the singing is sublime. I bought this for George London's Wotan and was not disappointed. It was a wonderful surprise to find Vickers in more heroic form than for Karajan (though still bel canto) and Gre Brouwenstijn's Sieglinde is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine (second only to Lotte Lehman's) - she has such humanity. The orchestra is in fine form and Leinsdorf's conducting is vigorous without being hurried and lingers where it needs to. For a studio recording, this is a remarkably theatrical performance. Thoroughly enjoyable - an excellent introduction to Wagner for beginners and a rewarding rendition for enthusiasts.
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on 18 April 2018
Excellent sound for its age, wonderful singing and finely conducted.
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on 13 June 2017
arrived in good condition
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on 17 December 2012
Una Walkure di altissimo livello!
A cominciare dalla direzione di Erich Leinsdorf accuratissima e molto personale, una Birgit Nilsson stratosferica nel ruolo di Brunnhilde (e non solo in questo), George London, un Wotan meraviglioso (si ascolti il finale dell'opera! lui e la Nilsson fanno a gara a chi canta meglio: due titani!), Jon Vickers, forse il Siegmund migliore della storia del disco, Gre Brouwenstijn, una Sieglinde molto interessante. Una Walkure da avere!!
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on 6 November 2014
This is outstandingly good by any standard. We might all croon over the Solti Ring (which is lauded justly elsewhere) but one wonders why on earth Decca didn't let Leinsdorf loose on more operas on the basis of this. The recording quality is stunning and trounces Solti with ease, the perspectives are very real and believable and the wind machine in the opening orchestral prelude is but one good example of this more discrete and realistic technique. The orchestral playing is simply fantastic and the LSO really do let you know why they are so highly regarded, they play as if it is their last concert, marvellous.
George London is matchless, tonally secure (unlike the wobbly Hotter) and Vickers excels in a very vigorous role. The engineers made a superb job in this recording, creating a sonic spectacle of the entire opera (even though you might hear footsteps here and there, all part of the charm in one way).
If you want to explore another vision of this work then don't hesitate for one moment, and it is a real bargain. Get it before they delete it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 August 2013
One of the great mysteries of life is why Decca in the early 1960's, having committed itself to the Solti Ring with the Vienna Philharmonic, went to the expense of recording this complete Walkure with Leinsdorf and the London Symphony a couple of years before Solti recorded his. Was it because they had Vickers under contract and he had decided that he couldn't work with Solti? Anyway . . . let's be grateful. On balance, I prefer this version to Solti's. For one thing, the sound is better (though I understand that a remastering of the Solti Ring has produced better results than is evident on the Walkure that I own), and for another, it's thrilling to hear Vickers as Siegmund. James King, on Solti's set, is fine, but Vickers's voice is one of the wonders of its age. Then there's Birgit Nilsson, sounding at least as good for Leinsdorf as for Solti, and the Wotan, George London, is to be preferred to Solti's Hans Hotter, a great singing actor caught about a decade too late. Solti does have Regine Crespin as Sieglinde -- luxury casting -- but Leinsdorf's Gre Brouwenstin, does a lovely job herself. As to the conducting, Leinsdorf isn't inferior to Solti. Neither has the gripping gravity of Furtwangler in his 1954 recording -- another must-have -- though that recording does show its age sonically. One warning -- the form in which I own this opera doesn't include a printed libretto, but real fans will surely have one for one of their other four or five Walkures!

NOTE: I have come to understand that this "Walkure" was originally released by RCA (as was Solti's "Aida"). Presumably there was some contractual agreement between what then were separate companies that the rights would at some point revert to Decca? Be all that as it may . . . a fine recording!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 February 2011
This recording has received its well deserved 5 stars in other reviews, notably that of Ralph Moore, so I propose to make some other observations. Its genesis is interesting, and it bears somewhat on the previous critical indifference to this first ever released Walkure in stereo (the 1955 Bayreuth productions were withheld by Decca).
Until the late 60's RCA had no separate presence in Europe-recording in Europe, pressing, publicity and distribution were all carried out by Decca on their behalf, and this resulted in many fine classical recordings including the Karajan Tosca and Carmen and the Solti Rome Opera recordings. This arrangement was very lucrative for Decca, not least because they benefited from the income from Elvis Presley recordings among others, which helped finance their ambitious classical recording programme.
John Culshaw's Ring project with Solti had already been disrupted by Decca's insistence on recording the first stereo Tristan after Das Rheingold, resulting in the postponement of Walkure-then RCA dropped their bombshell by requiring Decca to record and release a "stand alone" Walkure, with Nilsson cast as Brunnhilde to add insult. Decca had no option but to comply, but "briefed against " the resultant set which never received the promotion it deserved.
Critical opinion on its release concentrated on what it was not-not Solti, not Vienna, not part of a cycle, not Hotter etc.-rather than what it was!
In fact, it was and is arguably the finest Walkure recorded, with only Bohm and Karajan rivalling it. RCA assembled a superb cast, with the only small cavil being that David Ward is almost too noble for Hunding.
The resplendent LSO included personnel such as John Georgiadis, Barry Tuckwell, Gervase de Peyer, Jack Brymer, Dennis Wicks, John Wilbraham, Philip Jones, Anthony Craxton and Ossian Ellis to name but a few-the result is glorious playing which can stand alongside Vienna and Berlin. The recording still sounds superb, produced by Erik Smith (ne Schmidt-Isserstedt) and engineered by the incomparable Kenneth Wilkinson.
Another reviewer puts forward the view that recording Wagner in "studio" conditions is almost always doomed to failure as it is impossible to create the necessary level of dramatic release. There are so many examples of studio recordings of Wagner that confound this view that I shall not attempt to list them in this review-but this performance is certainly included in the list. Leinsdorf was a tremendously gifted and experienced conductor of Wagner, and he propels this structurally difficult work with the right amount of balance between excitement, lyricism, drama and spectacle. The problematic Act 2 does not drag either in Wotan's narration or the "Todesverkundigung " scenes, Act one is surpassed for me only by Karajan (because of Janowitz's Sieglinde) and Act 3 has an unmatched set of Valkyries leading in to the most beautiful and affecting exposition of the climax of the work I have heard.
The labyrinthine contract conditions mean that this recording has now reverted to Decca, and still has not received the promotion of the Solti recording-but is at mid price. All lovers of this work should hear this recording, and if you are looking for a mid-price version of this work, this is an outright recommendation. 5 Stars. Stewart Crowe
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on 19 December 2014
The end of Act one just blew me away. This has to be THE MUST HAVE recording of this opera. The conducting and singing is superb. It was a golden age and you just cannot hear singing of this quality in opera houses today - I wish!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 July 2008
I have known and loved this version of Wagner's masterpiece for thirty years, first on LP, then on CD - and I remain truly mystified by the received opinion that it is inferior to the later Solti set - which is, in fact, the weakest of that tetralogy; I would favour Karajan's thoughtful, refined, beautifully sung version over that. Both the latter and this Leinsdorf set feature Vickers as Siegmund. He is in excellent voice in both but even fresher and certainly less mannered here. As for the supposed superiority of Nilsson's later assumptions of Bruennhilde - like other reviewers of this set, I just don't hear it; here, she sounds superlative and not just a chromium plated virago, either - there are moments of supreme tenderness, especially in the Todesverkuendigung. Every role is sung by voices of towering power, conviction and grandeur - especially London's magnificent Wotan, which is a worthy companion to his account of that same role in Solti's "Rheingold", another of my favourite performances. The sound is excellent; the orchestra sonorous; Leinsdorf propels the action along with tremendous gusto. Brouwenstjin is really touching and suitably febrile as Sieglinde; the slight tremulousness in her voice, with its rapid, flickering vibrato, perfect to convey Sieglinde's terror and angst. The climax to Act One with Vickers is the highlight of the set, surpassed only by Melchior and Lehmann under Bruno Walter in their elderly (1935), but still gripping, Vienna recording.

Ignore the establishment view; this is the one Wagner recording I would be found clinging to if I had to keep but one. Nobody sings Wagner today like the artists on this set - and you have to make few compromises with the quality of sound to obtain such a great performance; it's very well recorded.
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