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Wagner: Die Walkure / Furtwangler, Flagstad, Treptow, Et Al

Release Date: 04/28/2009 
Label:  Archipel   Catalog #: 414   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Hilde KonetzniFerdinand FrantzGünther TreptowKirsten Flagstad,   ... 
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala OrchestraMilan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WAGNER Der Ring des Nibelungen Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond; Kirsten Flagstad ( Brünnhilde ); Ferdinand Frantz ( Wotan ); Josef Hermann ( Wanderer, Gunther ); Set Svanholm ( Siegfried 3 ); Max Lorenz ( Siegfried 4 ); Günther Treptow Read more ( Siegmund ); Hilde Konetzni ( Sieglinde, Gutrune ); Ludwig Weber ( Hunding, Hagen, Fasolt 1 , Fafner 3 ); Elisabeth Höngen ( Fricka 1, 2 , Erda 3 , Waltraute 4 ); Teatro alla Scala O & Ch ARCHIPEL 413–416, mono (12 CDs: 840:51) Live: Milan 3/1950 (1 in Das Rheingold); (2 in Die Walküre); (3 in Siegfried); (4 in Götterdämmerung)

Furtwängler collectors are very familiar with both complete Ring cycles that have been preserved, the 1950 La Scala performances and the RAI broadcasts from Rome in 1953. I previously reviewed this Scala cycle, and compared the two, in Fanfare 20:2, when Music & Arts issued it, and rather than repeat what I wrote then I refer readers to the old review. One of these cycles belongs in any serious collection that represents great Wagner performances, and one could make a case for both of them.

Each release of the Scala Ring has improved on prior ones. Music & Arts issued their fine transfer in 1996. Gebhardt issued an even better one in 2005. And now comes Archipel’s, which is the best yet, and in fact removes the sonic inferiority of the Scala performances as a reason to prefer the Rome RAI broadcasts. The Archipel engineers have brought out a warmth and fullness to the sound, both orchestral and vocal, that was not there in any prior transfer. Over the long stretches of these operas, it makes a real difference. This is particularly true because of the way Furtwängler built his orchestral sound, from the bottom up. The bass response here is richer and more focused than on all previous editions.

Archipel provides minimum written material: cast lists, dates of original performance, and track listings. The assumption is that those who would be interested in these recordings already know what they need to know. Furtwängler collectors who have earlier versions of the Scala Ring will, I’m sorry to say, need to make the investment to replace the older ones. This is now monaural sound of a good 1950s standard, with no apology to any listener needed.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Hilde Konetzni (Soprano), Ferdinand Frantz (Bass Baritone), Günther Treptow (Tenor),
Kirsten Flagstad (Soprano), Ludwig Weber (Bass), Elisabeth Höngen (Alto)
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Venue:  Milan, Italy 
Language: German 

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