Notes and Editorial Reviews
This was the first stereo recording of this opera, released in 1962. Erich Leinsdorf may not have been a conductor of “ideas”, but this reading works: it’s exciting, paced well, stunningly played, and despite a lack of tenderness in a couple of key moments (see below), it would be a joy to bump into an interpretation like this one in any opera house in the world.
The overall lack of subtlety does not bother me; indeed, this was the first Walküre I ever heard and it won me over to the work. Jon Vickers’ Siegmund is a known quantity and he is absolutely at his finest here–manly, warm, puzzled, determined–and the voice is in tip-top shape. Gré Brouwenstijn’s Sieglinde is similarly right, and if she lacks the potency
to carry through her final moments in the third act, she’s ideal until then. David Ward’s Hunding is not menacing enough. George London’s Wotan is huge-voiced and imposing, but also coarse. In fact, he and Rita Gorr’s Fricka are perfectly suited for one another.
Birgit Nilsson is, of course, impressive as all-get-out, but she grew interpretively in the role as she got older, and there are small, vocal issues here as well. Not only does she not “swoop” up to the Bs and Cs of “Ho-jo-to-hoe” (as she should), but throughout the opera, when she sings softly, the quality turns watery and loses pitch just enough to be noticed. The “Announcement of Death” scene lacks warmth (Leinsdorf? Nilsson? both?), and the Sieglinde-Siegmund scene that precedes it is missing sensitivity.
The Valkyries are splendid and the LSO, as mentioned, plays splendidly. Only after hearing the Vienna Philharmonic (Solti) and the Berlin Philharmonic (Karajan) do you realize that the LSO lacks the nth degree of polish. In short, own this for the “big” moments, the energy, and the Vickers-Brouwenstijn combo.
-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Birgit Nilsson (Soprano),
Rita Gorr (Mezzo Soprano),
Julia Malyon (Soprano),
Gré Brouwenstijn (Soprano),
George London (Bass),
Margreta Elkins (Mezzo Soprano),
Judith Pierce (Soprano),
Joan Edwards (Alto),
Noreen Berry (Alto),
Maureen Guy (Mezzo Soprano),
Josephine Veasey (Mezzo Soprano),
David Ward (Bass),
Marie Collier (Soprano),
Jon Vickers (Tenor)
London Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1856; Germany
Date of Recording: 09/1961
Venue: Walthamstow Hall, London, England
Length: 216 Minutes 16 Secs.
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