- Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), opera, WWV 86a
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The opening evening of Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen," "Das Rheingold" is the prologue of the cycle, which is followed in turn by the music dramas "Die Walküre," "Siegfried," and "Götterdämmerung." The first instalment in Jaap van Zweden's projected "Ring" with the Hong Kong Philharmonic -- an undertaking he regards as central to his tenure with the orchestra -- is a promising beginning that may surprise many experienced Wagnerians. Van Zweden is ambitious in presenting the "Ring" with this orchestra, which plays it for the first time, though in fairness to the musicians, they offer an intensity and vigor that more than makes up for any minor scrappiness. This Naxos recording also boasts an impressive cast that stars baritone Matthias Goerne as Wotan, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung as Fricka, and baritone Peter Sidhom as the dwarf Alberich, and their singing is as secure as many of the better-known voices at Bayreuth. The only problem worth mentioning is the strange balance of the sound, which is presumably due to miking the live performance, but it may also be a result of the mixing, which in places seems subdued. However, the concert hall's spacious acoustics give credible presence to the singers. The remaining operas are expected to be released on an annual basis, with the cycle's completion in 2018.
|Label:||Naxos Opera Classics|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Satisfying orchestral version of the score to Das Rheingold… This 2 CD set consists of the orchestral music for Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” recorded in January 2015 of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (under the capable baton of Jaap van Zweden) and featuring an impressive array of soloists. Matthias Goerne does a fine job as Wotan, his warm and powerful voice lending power and strength to the part, while Michelle DeYoung’s supple mezzo-soprano is well suited to bringing Fricka to life. Peter Sidhom’s dark baritone is positively wonderful as Alberich, the dwarf Nibelung that steals the Rhinemaiden’s gold and forged it into the Ring. I didn’t feel that any of the soloists were weak – but these three particularly stood out for me on this recording. With any operatic work of Wagner, I always have trouble if I am not watching the full opera production itself live in the opera house. While the live theater experience is never fully captured by a recording, I am a always particularly cognizant of that fact that *something* is missing and that is certainly true here. That being said, it’s not safe to watch a DVD and drive a car at the same time, and this recording has kept me company on more than a few journeys. The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra sounds fantastic, neither overpowering the soloists (easy to do given Wagner’s large orchestration) nor succumbing to worshipping the soloists as does happen from time-to-time on other recordings. The balance here is good, with the orchestra and soloists working as equal partners to bring the work to life as much as is possible given that this is not a full opera production. The liner notes give a breakdown and summary of the basic plot and themes present in the work, annotated with track numbers, as well as providing a brief historical background on some of the behind-the-scenes drama that always followed Wagner himself. For those that love and appreciate the music of Wagner, and particularly this opening of his Ring Cycle, this 2 CD set is welcome company. Recommended.