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Robert Levine
ClassicsToday.com, January 2013

Tempos and forward-movement are well-judged…The characters play off one another, diction is close to flawless; we can hear the sarcasm in Hagen as well as the craziness in Alberich…

The quiet evil with which the second act begins…is about as creepy as anything I’ve ever heard, with the high strings nervously stuttering and the winds and brass roiling—not to mention those trills on the Wagner tubas as the scene changes! Wagner’s solos for winds are as suddenly noticeable as Mozart’s. You are never bombarded by sound save for the truly big moments: the end of the prologue, the scene with the vassals, Siegfried’s Funeral March, and the final cataclysm, making these moments all the more powerful.

The cast is worthy. Lance Ryan…remains a bright-voiced hero…both of his high Cs are amazing…in general he is in solid voice. He is very moving in his death scene, phrasing handsomely and with a quiet resignation that is unbeatable on recordings.

Susan Bullock continues the Cycle as Brünnhilde…Every word counts: her conviction in the Waltraute scene; her horror when a stranger breaks through the fire; her reaction to Siegfried’s entrance for the Wedding Scene…and a fine Immolation Scene…suffice it to say that as far as wedding the words and music, she’s second to none, and her enunciation is spotless.

Gregory Frank[’s]…voice is big and dark enough…and he has an audible sneer that can send chills down the spine. His hatred, jealousy, and cunning are omnipresent, and he’s a fine phony in the first act.

Jochen Schmeckenbecher’s Alberich is about as unnerving as any you will ever hear in his scene with Hagen. Anja Fidelia Ulrich is a good, alluring Gutrune. The three Norns are excellent (Mahnke is the second; Meredith Arwady is the first; and the deliciously-named Angel Blue is the third); the Rhinemaidens are very expressive…

The chorus…is another of this set’s glories. Along with Weigle’s non-intrusive, clear-as-a-bell story-telling and the stunning playing of the Frankfurt Opera, this set is a winner. It’s among the most committed sets around. The sonics are spectacular. © 2013 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review





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