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WAGNER, R. Ring des Nibelungen (Der): Götterdämmerung [Opera] (Barkmin, Brenna, Shenyang, Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, van Zweden)


Naxos 8.660428-31

   Limelight, April 2019
   Fanfare, March 2019
   The Wagner Journal, March 2019
   MusicWeb International, February 2019
   Opera, January 2019
   AllMusic.com, December 2018
   Financial Times, December 2018
   The Sunday Times, London, December 2018
   Wagner News, December 2018
   BBC Music Magazine, December 2018
   iClassical, November 2018
   The Guardian, November 2018
   The Times (London), November 2018
   ClassicsToday.com, November 2018
   David's Review Corner, November 2018
   Opera Now, November 2018
   Gramophone, November 2018
   Lark Reviews, November 2018
   ClassicalCDReview.com, November 2018

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Limelight, April 2019

This is a fine conclusion to the Hong Kong Ring Cycle, a great achievement for the orchestra and its administration. Van Zweden’s conducting is satisfying in its integrity, sensitively supporting the singers while maintaining a sweeping line to the dramatic arc—the big show-pieces are grand and thrilling without overheating…

…The recording team has settled on a consistent acoustic picture, with the voices realistically balanced against the orchestra with plenty of detail. To sum up, this cycle would be a fine introduction for Ring newbies—van Zweden’s straightforward reading is natural and truthful without imprinting extreme tempi… © 2019 Limelight Read complete review



Gavin Dixon
Fanfare, March 2019

Gunther and Gutrune are well represented by Shenyang and Amanda Majeski. Shenyang has a clear, projecting tone…

…The conducting of Jaap van Zweden, the playing of the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the excellent audio (engineer Phil Rowlands) all count in the project’s favor. I was particularly impressed by the audio on this last installment, but there is no doubt that it is a major selling point for the entire cycle. © 2019 Fanfare Read complete review



The Wagner Journal, March 2019

WAGNER, R. Ring des Nibelungen (Der): Götterdämmerung [Opera] (Barkmin, Brenna, Shenyang, Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, van Zweden) 8.660428-31
WAGNER, R.: Ring des Nibelungen (Der): Götterdämmerung [Opera] (Barkmin, Brenna, Shenyang, Hong Kong Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra, van Zweden) NBD0075A

Many of its strengths lie in the live concert format: the orchestral sound is rich and round… The orchestral playing is of the highest standard. © 2019 The Wagner Journal



Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, February 2019

Shenyang gives a thoroughly polished performance – with excellent definition in both pitch and diction – which renders him almost the most heroic character on stage, a rather strange inversion of Wagner’s intentions. Amanda Majeski is similarly a very positive Gutrune, indeed putting up a good fight against Brünnhilde in their final scene; and Michelle DeYoung is an excellent Waltraute even if her rich contralto can turn unwontedly matronly. Peter Kálmán is an agitated Alberich, with a nice line in whispered insinuation which works well in his brief scene.

In the final pages of this performance, the combination of conducting, playing and engineering is every bit as good as in any of the rival versions on disc, with the themes marvellously balanced. … This cycle on Naxos, now complete, comprehensively trounces earlier releases on the label, and at its super-budget price might well form a recommendable modern representation of the score for newcomers to the field. © 2019 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Opera, January 2019

Throughout there’s a real sense of continuity, of broad spans, to van Zweden’s conducting. There’s also a meticulous attention to detail, and the recording manages to achieve that elusive combination of transparency and depth of sound to the orchestral playing. © 2019 Opera




Blair Sanderson
AllMusic.com, December 2018

Completing their Ring cycle on Naxos, Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra have at last released their much anticipated recording of Götterdämmerung, which proves conclusively that this enterprise was a success. … Featuring soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin as Brünnhilde, tenor Daniel Brenna as Siegfried, bass-baritone Shenyang as Gunther, and bass Eric Halfvarson as Hagen, this live recording of Götterdämmerung boasts capable singing and sufficient drama for a concert performance, though, as has been evident throughout this Ring, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra has outdone itself with its rich sonorities, polished execution, and expressive depth, and risen to star status in its own right. © 2018 AllMusic.com Read complete review




Richard Fairman
Financial Times, December 2018

With all four operas of the Hong Kong Ring in front of us, it is clear that the linchpin is the conductor, Jaap van Zweden. He has rehearsed his players to form a credible Wagner orchestra ... and exerts a formidable grip on the drama. This Götterdämmerung, the last instalment, is urgent, feisty and impassioned. © 2018 Financial Times



Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times, London, December 2018

Orchestrally at least, the climax to this Ring, which began four years ago with a promising Rheingold, is magnificent. Van Zweden is a symphonic Wagnerian, teasing out rarely heard details from the score in the great orchestral set pieces. Vocally, it’s mixed: Daniel Brenna’s valiant Siegfried sounds constricted, Eric Halfvarson’s black-voiced Hagen is an asset and Gun-Brit Barkmin, neither beautiful nor opulent, is still the most compelling of this Ring cycle’s three Brünnhildes. © 2018 The Sunday Times, London



Wagner News, December 2018

At every turn, my ear was drawn to details in the score that I had never noticed before. © 2018 Wagner News




BBC Music Magazine, December 2018

Gun-Brit Barkmin’s Brünnhilde is once again admirable in her ability to maintain quality tone throughout, in an approach that combines lyricism with dramatic focus. The three combined choirs form a fearsome gang of Vassals, and the smaller roles are all finely done. © 2018 BBC Music Magazine



iClassical, November 2018

This fine version can, without question, hold its head high among any of the competition. The sound recording is excellent, the balance between orchestra and soloists near ideal, and the orchestra itself performs superbly. Van Zweden draws excellent playing throughout, finding colour and shade in the score, where many (often rather eminent) competitors do not. © 2018 iClassical Read complete review



Andrew Clements
The Guardian, November 2018

His [Jaap van Zweden] control of the huge musical and dramatic paragraphs of Götterdämmerung is always confident, and the orchestral set pieces—the Rhine Journey and Siegfried’s Funeral March—have an undeniably impressive dramatic presence. © 2018 The Guardian Read complete review




Geoff Brown
The Times (London), November 2018

The Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden, the music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, deserves an award for steering his players through initially unfamiliar music with such a firm hand and sustained panache. Trophies should equally go to the musicians for their warmth, robustness and precision. When the horns call out before Siegfried’s fateful return to the Rhine forest in Act II, or in the Act III prelude, you’re hearing one of the best Wagner orchestras in the world. © 2018 The Times Read complete review




Robert Levine
ClassicsToday.com, November 2018

This is a grand finale to the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s Ring Cycle. This set is, in one word, majestic, which is a fitting end to the Cycle. © 2018 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2018

Earlier this year Naxos placed on disc Gotterdammerung, the final instalment of Hong Kong’s first ever performance of Wagner’s opera Der Ring das Nibelungen. We have here reached the point where Wotan’s earthly son has discovered Brunnhilde on a rock surrounded by fire where Wotan had left her, Siegfried being the hero who would walk through that fire and bring her back to life. But he now falls victim to the offsprings of Wotan’s enemies and it is there that Gotterdammerung begins. The early part of my reviewing career coincided with the release of Georg Solti’s legendary recording of the complete Ring cycle when he could call upon the world’s greatest Wagnerian singers to record it piecemeal as and when they were available, those sessions joined to form the complete operas. It is certainly a very different matter to place ‘live’ concert performances on disc, and having recently enjoyed a parallel project in England, Hong Kong’s venture has my admiration for these recordings which, at times, have surpassed any version I have encountered on disc. Jaap van Zweden has here built a passion that has taken the great choral passages to white heat, with the singers flown in from Germany and Latvia to partner the local chorus singers. As one orchestra member commented to me, ‘you don’t know how much physical stamina you need until you have played Gotterdammerung’. Well the Hong Kong musicians were still giving everything they have right through to the final cataclysmic bars, with special congratulations to the unflagging French horn section, and particularly the solo horn who should have been named. The singers are all reliable and possess that Wagnerian ‘sound’, though Eric Halfvarson’s sinister Hagen does steal the whole performance, his second act scene with Peter Kalman’s superb Alberich is the most telling part of the presentation. I have enjoyed the powerful Siegfried from the American tenor, Daniel Brenna... Of the female singers, Amanda Majeski, makes a fine Gutrune, happy at first, but suitably crestfallen as she realises she has been tricked. That this Ring cycle has artistically ever taken place has been due to the Dutch conductor, Jaap van Zweden, the Hong Kong Philharmonic’s music director, and soon to take the helm of the New York Philharmonic. His tempos are quick, almost 30 minutes faster than some performances on disc, and he builds up some mightily impressive climaxes. Though the Funeral March seems to have been taken from a different time, my admiration goes out to the Producer and Engineer, Phil Rowlands, who has recorded this from two ‘live’ concert performances in the admirable Hong Kong Cultural Concert Hall. It has given me tremendous pleasure reviewing it from from ‘standard’ CDs, but there is also a Blu-ray version on NBD0075A, and all four operas are due to be released in a boxed set. © 2018 David’s Review Corner



Opera Now, November 2018

It’s certainly remarkable what Van Zweden has achieved in Hong Kong in four short years. The new Ring stands as a testament to the determination and focus that has utterly transformed the HK Phil into certainly the best orchestra in Asia and one that can hold its own on any international platform. This is a disciplined yet flexible and sonorous ensemble that follows the architecture of Wagner’s narrative in long, beautifully phrased arcs of music. © 2018 Opera Now



Mike Ashman
Gramophone, November 2018

…We have now reached for this live Hong Kong concert Ring cycle assembled over four years—this project’s main achievement may well prove to be the maturing of orchestra, conductor and recording team in performing Wagner’s music. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Lark Reviews, November 2018

All of the smaller parts are strongly cast and I have no hesitation in saying that, taken as a whole, this has to be the finest Ring Cycle currently available if anyone is looking for the first time—and even if, like many of us, you have a number of cycles already, you will not be disappointed. © 2018 Lark Reviews



ClassicalCDReview.com, November 2018

The precision of the orchestral playing is impressive. The recording is drawn from two live performances, but that’s not usually enough to get all the horn calls at the opening of act III without splits: The passage is perfectly rendered here… A box-set of the Hong Kong Ring cycle is being released to coincide with this Götterdämmerung, and it should be an attractive proposition, especially at Naxos prices. © 2018 ClassicalCDReview.com





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