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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Nilsson's tireless Brunnhilde and Windgassen's intelligent Siegfried are unsurpassed.
Karl Böhm rightly plays a prominent part in Philips's boxes of Bayreuth performances issued to mark the Festspielhaus's centenary. During the mid-1960s he was the dominating conductor there, and his Ring cycle, although not overruling other interpretations in the catalogue, supplements them with another, and quite different view of the work, as JW indicated in his first review three years ago... Böhm's interpretation, as can be confirmed in the 1969 Bayreuth programme listings of various conductor's times, is on the whole on the fast side. That, for me, comes as a welcome change from the predominantly slow readings we have
admired in London recently from Goodall, Colin Davis and Mackerras. There are obvious losses; but also many positive gains. The quicker tempi, particularly in the context of a live recording, make for a more direct and dramatic reading, and certain passages that can become portentous, even dull, at slower speeds are gathered together here into the sweep of the whole interpretation; ...the opening of the second act of Siegfried [and] the end of that act...are instances, while the surge of the...duet at the end of Siegfried is wholly admirable.
...Böhm's cast is not uniformly excellent, but contains at least two performances unsurpassed on the other sets. These are Nilsson's tireless Brunnhilde and Windgassen's intelligent Siegfried. I know that they took their parts on the Decca recording too, but here, in a stage performance, they both sound that much more involved in what they are doing. Windgassen, who was surely undervalued while he was alive, is unfailingly musical (even if the tone can be uncomfortably hard), and his understanding of the developing character is marvellous to hear... [T]he only signs of tiredness come right at the end of Siegfried, understandably enough. Nilsson moves from the womanly creation of Walküre through the tender yet heroic goddess of Siegfried... I would recommend a newcomer to the Böhm cycle. He will never be bored, he will appreciate the dramatic if not the metaphysical essence of the vast work, and experience a totally theatrical performance.
-- Gramophone [7/1976]
reviewing the complete Böhm Ring on LP
Works on This Recording
Siegfried by Richard Wagner
Theo Adam (Bass),
Erwin Wohlfahrt (Tenor),
Erika Köth (Soprano),
Vera Soukupová (Alto),
Birgit Nilsson (Soprano),
Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor),
Kurt Böhme (Bass),
Gustav Neidlinger (Bass Baritone)
Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Written: 1871; Germany
Date of Recording: 1967
Venue: Live Festspielhaus, Bayreuth, Germany
Length: 223 Minutes 29 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Eye-opening and joyous. October 10, 2014
By Jeffrey S. (Pekin, IL) See All My Reviews
"Karl Böhm's was the first complete Ring cycle I bought as a young music student. The lp vinyls wore out long ago and I have finally gotten around to buying the complete compact disc cycle on Philips (not the Decca rerelease which is deficient, lacking libretti etc, poor job on Decca's part, this great, perhaps THE greatest Ring cycle on record deserves the best possible treatment). Karl Böhm's mastery of this music grows in stature with the passing years as so many lesser mortals attempt to conduct these operas and actually get them recorded. I won't comment on the current singing crop, or producers. Böhm's cycle from Bayreuth in 1967 was in tandem with Wieland Wagner's second cycle. It has become iconic and hasn't been matched yet in terms of imagination and dramatic cogency. On the musical side I gravely doubt if a cast like his will ever appear again on the face of the earth, at least not in my lifetime. First off, singers like Birgit Nilsson seem to be sent down to us like mana from heaven to soothe are savage breasts with her heroic and goddess-like singing. She is caught to much better effect by the Philips engineers live at Bayreuth than she was for Decca and the knob-twiddling John Culshaw, under the relentless, albeit often brilliant, direction of Georg Solti. I prefer live recordings as they show us the mettle the cast, conductor, chorus and orchestra are made off. Wolfgang Windgassen was 51 when he recorded this performance and he sounds just as youthful and powerful as he did back in 1953 under the direction of Clemens Krauss in that great recording, available in splendid monaural sound from Opera d'Oro, another Must-Have Ring cycle, along with Böhm's. He is partnered by the most obnoxious and despicable Mime I've ever heard in Erwin Wohlfahrt. This man was great! It took awhile for me to get used to his cackling, clearly as directed by Wieland Wagner. He sings the notes, he doesn't sprechstimme them in the fashion of Gerhard Stolze (Solti and Karajan) or Graham Clark (Barenboim and Haenchen). His is a brilliant performance of the old dwarf who has clearly gone completely mad raising Siegfried. Windgassen's Siegfried plays off this potent evil with relish making their scenes together unforgettable in their humor and vitriol mixed. Theo Adam was a very great Wotan/Wanderer. He fell in for a lot of flack when this Ring cycle appeared, critics comparing him to Hotter and so on. He was accused of wobbling and barking, the usual put-down of a Wotan singer. I do not hear anything in the nature of those two things. His voice is firm, masculine, fatherly and menacing by turns. Gustav Neidlinger, like Windgassen, sounds as fresh-voiced and potent as he did, again, in the Krauss operas in 1953. A masterclass in this role that only Ekkehard Wlaschiha has fully encompassed for Sawallisch in his great live cycle from Munich on EMI. Kurt Böhme's Fafner is in a class of his own. The battle between him and Siegfried is truly violent and vividly performed by the orchestra. Böhme's dyeing groans really sound like a dying dragon! Smaug to the life. This is followed by Erika Köth's lively and live-affirming Forest Bird. I am not a big fan of Vera Soukupová's Erda simply because her voice is what used to be called 'slavic', TOO slavic for me. Vibrato ridden and metallic, though steady and characterful. She is better as the Siegfried Erda than she is for the Rheingold incarnation of this mysterious character. The final Love Duet is ecstatic beyond any other I've heard, due mostly to Nilsson's voice having room to bloom in the marvelous Bayreuth acoustic. There are some very fine 'Siegfried' recordings available; Krauss, Solti, Karajan, Janowski (Dresden), and Knappertsbusch from 1956 on Music and Arts. All of these I would buy with the entire cycles. You can't have just one. This one, from the great Karl Böhm is on the top of my pile, I have 37 Siegfried recordings in my collection."