WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Wagner: Gotterdammerung / Barenboim, Ryan, Grochowski, Kranzle, Petrenko, Meier

Wagner / Barenboim / Theorin / Schlager / Kranzle
Release Date: 03/25/2014 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 101696  
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Maria GortsevskayaIréne TheorinGerd GrochowskiMikhail Petrenko,   ... 
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala OrchestraMilan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray

Götterdämmerung, the final installment of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, is a story of human passions. Two essentially benevolent creatures, involved with and possibly doomed by their traffic with the gods, find treachery and evil in the world of the humans, and are ruined by the dark side of humanity. Iréne Theorin, acclaimed worldwide for her portrayal of Wagner's heroines, stars as Brünnhilde opposite Lance Ryan, who continues his radiant portrayal of the tragic hero Siegfried. The strong cast also includes Mikhail Petrenko as the dark antagonist Hagen and Johannes Martin Kränzle, who once again shines as his
Read more father Alberich. Opera star Waltraud Meier has a memorable appearance as Brünnhilde's sister Waltraute. With this 2013 recording of Götterdämmerung, the musically and visually compelling Scala Ring Cycle by Daniel Barenboim and Guy Cassiers was completed and proved to be one of the highlights of the Richard Wagner bicentenary.

Richard Wagner

Siegfried - Lance Ryan
Gunther - Gerd Grochowski
Alberich - Johannes Martin Kränzle
Hagen - Mikhail Petrenko
Brünnhilde - Iréne Theorin
Gutrune / Die dritte Norn - Anna Samuil
Waltraute / Die zweite Norn - Waltraud Meier
Die erste Norn - Margarita Nekrasova
Woglinde - Aga Mikolaj
Wellgunde - Maria Gortsevskaya
Flosshilde - Anna Lapkovskajav

Milan La Scala Chorus and Orchestra
(chorus master: Bruno Casoni)
Daniel Barenboim, conductor

Guy Cassiers, stage director and set designer
Enrico Bagnoli, set and lighting designer
Tim van Steenbergen, costume designer
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, choreographer

Recorded live at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, June 2013

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean
Running time: 292 mins
No. of DVDs: 2 (DVD 9)

R E V I E W: 3814240.az_WAGNER_Gotterdammerung_Daniel_Barenboim.html

WAGNER Götterdämmerung Daniel Barenboim, cond; Iréne Theorin (Brünnhilde); Anna Samuil (Gutrune, Third Norn); Waltraud Meier (Waltraute, Second Norn); Margarita Nekrasova (First Norn); Aga Mikolaj (Woglinde); Maria Gortsevskaya (Wellgunde); Anna Lapkovskaja (Flosshilde); Lance Ryan (Siegfried); Gerd Grochowski (Gunther); Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich); Mikhail Petrenko (Hagen); La Scala O & Ch ARTHAUS 101696 (2 DVDs: 292:00) Live: Milan 6/2013

With the release of Götterdämmerung, the Barenboim/La Scala Ring is available in its totality and there are now four complete cycles to be had in the high-resolution Blu-ray format—five, if you include the seven-hour Colòn Ring, which you shouldn’t. This might seem like an embarrassment of riches but, actually, at the end of the day there’s a clear choice.

The strengths of this Götterdämmerung are not inconsequential. First and foremost is Daniel Barenboim, who certainly gets my vote for the finest active Wagner conductor. Barenboim makes sense of every page of the drama, often finding moments of genius in unexpected places: listen to his flowing, fluid introduction to the Rhinemaidens’ entrance in act III. By savoring every unexpected, ambiguous harmony (the orchestral music accompanying the Norns is loaded with them), the conductor shows us how sophisticated Wagner had become with his musical language by his penultimate opera. The La Scala orchestra is with Barenboim every step of the way and Arthaus Music provides weighty, dynamic, and richly detailed sonics. The best vocal performances include those from Mikhail Petrenko as Hagen, who oozes malevolence from every pore, and Gerd Grochowski, whose Gunther is no foppish cipher, but rather a complex man with insecurities that his half-brother is prepared to exploit. Johannes Martin Kränzle returns as Alberich, intelligent and rational as he assures himself that Hagen is on board with his plans for recovering the ring. Waltraute Meier does a magnificent turn as Brünnhilde’s Valkyrie sister (and, as a bonus, also covers one of the Norn roles.) Deserving of special mention is Anna Samuil, whose portrayal of Gutrune is the best I’ve seen, on video or in person. There’s a slight, coquettish suggestion of Madeline Kahn as she knowingly represents a slutty yet prideful temptress angling for the chemically susceptible Siegfried. She happens to be beautiful as well. Samuil did a very fine job with the thankless part of Freia in this cycle’s Das Rheingold and she has also sung Eva. I wonder what bigger Wagner roles are in her future—Sieglinde, at least, I would hope. Finally, one last positive attribute of this Götterdämmerung to mention is the video design of Arjen Klerx and Kurt D’Haeseleer, who have created images that linger in the mind long after they’ve passed by on stage, especially if water, fire, or the great outdoors needs to be evoked.

That’s a long list of plusses but, unfortunately, the two most important roles are not as successfully represented. The Canadian Heldentenor Lance Ryan has become a go-to Siegfried (Bayreuth in 2010, 2013, and 2014; on video for Zubin Mehta with the stunning Valencia Ring) and, while he manages to look the part, his vocal instrument is here stale, colorless, and underpowered—not especially heroic. Iréne Theorin succeeds most as Brünnhilde when she is mad (as with the end of act II), and her Immolation Scene possesses powerful nobility. But she’s saddled with makeup and a costume that makes her seem mannish and ungainly; she is just not believable as the object of Siegfried’s passion. She looks like Siegfried’s aunt instead, and her appearance reinforces an impression of middle-aged matronliness in her singing. I’m also sorry to report that the Eastman Ballet Company (which has nothing to do with the music school in Rochester, New York) is back, an amateurish, distracting presence whenever they’re sent out for a bit of interpretive dance. At least there’s a lot less of them than, say, in Das Rheingold: It’s as if La Scala did market research learned of negative perceptions to cut their losses in latter parts of the tetralogy.

So, what to choose for a single high-resolution video Ring cycle? The Levine/Luisi/Lepage production at the Met is seriously compromised by its monstrous stage set, and the Weimer Ring, conducted by Carl St. Clair, is a nonstarter for its Eurotrash sensibilities. The La Scala/Barenboim Walküre is highly recommendable—no dancers, and Nina Stemme sings Brünnhilde. But for a complete cycle, even with Lance Ryan, the Valencia Der Ring des Nibelungen is still the one to own.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
Read less

Works on This Recording

Götterdämmerung by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Maria Gortsevskaya (Mezzo Soprano), Iréne Theorin (Soprano), Gerd Grochowski (Bass Baritone),
Mikhail Petrenko (Bass), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Baritone), Lance Ryan (Tenor),
Waltraud Meier (Mezzo Soprano), Aga Mikolaj (Soprano)
Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,  Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871-1874; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title