The First Stereo Ring Cycle previously unpublished DIE WALKURE SBT4 1391 (4 CDs)
Sunday Times CD of the week. A must have acquisition for all serious Wagnerians. Keilberth occasionally lingers lovingly over the erotically charged music. He can whip up storms however in the preludes to each act, with playing of cosmic depth and brilliance from the Bayreuth Orchestra, wonderfully captured in Decca’s early sounds. The closing scene is simply glorious.
Gramophone The second instalment in what is proving to be the definitive ‘Ring’. Hans Hotter, as Wotan dominates this utterly absorbing account of Walküre. As ever his sonorous, wide-ranging voice is matched by his verbal acuity, text and tone in ideal accord. We are here in the highest realm of Wagnerian interpretation. I can’t wait for the first and last parts of the cycle to appear.
International Record Review Ramón Vinay gives his voice an heroic and tragic dimension which he exploits with immediate skill. Wotan, alias Hans Hotter, appears in all his majesty, authority, grandeur, the definitive interpreter of the most complex of all operatic roles. Here he is in marvellous voice throughout the enormous part. Astrid Varnay stupendous and tireless. People may at last recognise that Varnay is the equal of any Brünnhilde there has ever been. Can there ever be another performance mercifully caught in sound that does Die Walküre the fullest justice, that conveys Wagner’s vision so completely as this one?
The Sunday Telegraph Review June 11th 2006. This is the second instalment of the 1955 first stereo Bayreuth Ring of which we were deprived for 50 years by John Culshaw’s politicising. Suffice it to say that those of you who bought the Siegfried need only know that the wonderful standard of performance and recording there is maintained here. Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung follow later this year. It is hard to think of any rival to it as the finest 'Ring' on disc. Joseph Keilberth’s conducting alone is enough to ensure that status, with orchestral playing of miraculous expressiveness and tone-colour. Astrid Varnay is again gleaming Brünnhilde, her high notes flying like arrows to their target. As wotan, Hans Hotter is caught in his peerless prime in this role, with no trace of strain. His singing of the Farewell is noble and overpoweringly emotional. The Siegmund and Sieglinde are Ramón Vinay and Gré Brouwenstijn, the former’s baritonal timbre a distinct advantage and the latter’s tenderness melting lovingly. Josef Greindl is a fearsome Hunding and Georgine von Milinkovic an impressive Fricka. For any one of these performances it would be worth acquiring this set. For all of them - well, just rush out and buy it. Michael Kennedy