Wagner: Götterdämmerung

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
With this "Götterdämmerung," English historical label Testamentconcluded its releases of the long un-issued first stereo recording of Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" from the 1955 Bayreuth Festival performance. Shelved by Decca when it opted to record the work in the studio with Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic, the release of the first stereo "Ring" was eagerly anticipated by older listeners who wanted to rediscover the glory that was the '50s Bayreuth Festival and by younger listeners who wanted to know why the '50s Bayreuth Festivals were considered glorious. What will the dispassionate listener actually hear in the 1955 Bayreuth "Götterdämmerung"? Respectable but ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
With this "Götterdämmerung," English historical label Testamentconcluded its releases of the long un-issued first stereo recording of Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" from the 1955 Bayreuth Festival performance. Shelved by Decca when it opted to record the work in the studio with Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic, the release of the first stereo "Ring" was eagerly anticipated by older listeners who wanted to rediscover the glory that was the '50s Bayreuth Festival and by younger listeners who wanted to know why the '50s Bayreuth Festivals were considered glorious. What will the dispassionate listener actually hear in the 1955 Bayreuth "Götterdämmerung"? Respectable but uninspired conducting, more than decent but less than brilliant sound, and unbelievably great singing. Joseph Keilberth was an interesting conductor in selected works of Reger and Bruckner, but his Wagner proves merely efficient without the dramatic fire of Clemens Krauss' 1953 Bayreuth "Ring" or the epic flow of Hans Knappertsbusch's 1956 Bayreuth "Ring." Nor with the functional string and wind sections, the sometimes painfully out-of-tune brass section, and the strong but not particularly subtle tone does the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra do Keilberth any favors. Nor, unfortunately, is the live stereo sound especially impressive. True, it's grand to hear such an apparently accurate aural representation of the inside of the theater Wagner built for the "Ring," but not only are there unseemly amounts audience and stage noise, but the quality of the sound itself is often too dim and distant to have real impact. By far the best thing about the performance is the principals. Astrid Varnay, with a voice powerful enough to smash atoms, is utterly compelling as Brünnhilde. Nearly as good is Wolfgang Windgassen as Siegfried. Not always the most nuanced singer, Windgassen sings here like a man possessed, even matching Varnay's passion in the opening duet. With the magnificently malevolent Gustav Neidlinger as Alberich, the aggressively malicious Josef Greindl as Hagen, Hermann Uhde as a very sympathetic Gunther, Maria von Ilosvay as a deeply pathetic Gutrune, and the very beguiling Jutta Vulpius, Elisabeth Schärtel, and Maria Graf as the Rhinemaidens, the cast at least recalls the glory that was Bayreuth in the '50s.
New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
The casts are incomparable.... But Mr. Keilberth's organic conducting is the revelation.
Gramophone - Alan Blyth
[February 2007 CD of the Month] The great project reaches its glorious close, as magnificently conducted, played and sung as the rest of this revelatory Ring. One wonders anew at the fidelity of the sound, the dedicated intensity of the orchestra and uniform strengths of every member of a memorable cast.
Opera News - Marinig Bemheimer
The hero, here as before, is the conductor, Joseph Keilberth. He sustains tension, and momentum too, from the first mysterious chord to the final exultant cadence.... There is a rare grandeur here, and rare drama as well.
Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns
This installment is as strong as the others, with particularly luxurious casting.... The particular miracles of this final installment are headed by soprano Astrid Varnay: Though always well-realized theatrically, her Brunnhilde is in a vocal state of grace.
Philadelphia Inquirer - David Patrick Stearns
Among the best ever.... Keilberth's arresting conducting never lets you forget that this music is about things more important than mermaids and gnomes.
Dallas Morning News - Lawson Taitte
[Grade: A-] The stars here -- Wolfgang Windgassen, Astrid Varnay and Josef Greindl as their nemesis, Hagen -- all sing heroically. There has probably never been another Gunther to equal Hermann Uhde's.
Stereophile - Richard Lehnert
I think I have finally found a Ring that betters Solti's epochal recording.... I can't recommend this recording highly enough.
The Guardian - Andrew Clements
A cycle which now has to be ranked alongside the very finest available on disc.... For all the glory of the singing throughout this Ring cycle, it is also Keilberth's greatness as a Wagner interpreter that is documented so vividly in these wonderful performances.

[February 2007 CD of the Month] The great project reaches its glorious close, as magnificently conducted, played and sung as the rest of this revelatory Ring. One wonders anew at the fidelity of the sound, the dedicated intensity of the orchestra and uniform strengths of every member of a memorable cast.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/13/2007
  • Label: Testament Uk
  • UPC: 749677139322
  • Catalog Number: 1393
  • Sales rank: 267,448

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Die Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), opera, WWV 86d - Richard Wagner & Gré Brouwenstijn (256:17)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Joseph Keilberth Primary Artist
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