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Thread: Wagner on disc....Gotterdammerung

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Post Wagner on disc....Gotterdammerung

    Even though Wagner didn't complete this until after his "break" to write Meistersinger and Tristan (amazing) I am doing it next to wrap up our Ring opera surveys.
    Maybe the grandest opera in all opera, it's a huge work with seemingly endless melodies, orchestral music, a Norn prologue and for the first time in the Ring, a chorus.

    One Act at a time is how I tackle this magnificent music drama.

    So what's your choice for this amazing work?
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

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    My first recording of Gotterdammerung was Furtwangler's Italien radio Broadcast on EMI. The performance was recorded in Rome in November 1953. It was a tough one to get into only because of the boxy sound. Furtwangler was near the end of his life and though I cannot fault the performance itself, it is by no means the only Ring one should have, given the improvements in recording technology over the years. Given my familiarity with the entire Ring cycle over the past few years, this recording has gained more relevance in light of it's historical value. I go back to it to listen to certain parts of the opera for the Furtwangler-touch.
    My second recording was the Marek Janowski with the Staatskapelle Dresden. I purchased the complete libretto by this time so my listening experience was enhanced by the vast sound improvement and performances from this excellent budget set on RCA.
    My third recording was the Karajan/BPO recorded in the late sixties recently re-released on DG Eloquence. I would recommend this recording to anyone. The Karajan set is my choice for Gotterdammerung. I would choose both Janowski and Karajan for Siegfried. Janowski for dramatic excitement and Karajan for mystical lyricism.
    I have seen the Barenboim DVD and while it is impressive I find the production to be somewhat limited, given the scope of the subject. It is an interesting approach all the same. I enjoy it very much. Danny's tempo's are a bit too sluggish for me in parts of it.
    There are so many recordings that I have not heard, so it's impossible for me to be an authority on which one to get. For Rheingold it's Karajan. Walkure, Karajan and Janowski. Siegfried, Janowski and Karajan and for the thread topic it would have to be Herbie. I love his approach. There is such clarity and refinement and I tend to like the singers most of all. For true Wagnerian singing, orchestral excitement and shock value, Solti is hard to beat. I do not respond to Solti's set the way many others do. His Gotterdammerung may be the greatest, but I prefer Karajan's recording.
    Last edited by KJ von NNJ; Oct-18-2017 at 03:07.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    For this opera, Solti's Decca recording. I'm not a fan of the first three operas in his recorded cycle, but for Gotterdammerung, it's hard to find fault with that cast, the orchestra, or the sonics.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    My third recording was the Karajan/BPO recorded in the late sixties recently re-released on DG Eloquence. I would recommend this recording to anyone. The Karajan set is my choice for Gotterdammerung.
    My problem with the Karajan Gotterdammerung is that the two principals have voices too light to really fill out the music, particularly Brilioth. Sonics aside, I actually prefer the live Salzburg performance, which has Jess Thomas instead.

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    Senior Member MAS's Avatar
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    55 Keilberth - This is my favorite mainly because Astrid is my preferred Brunnhilde, the cast is the best that can be had in the 1950s in prime voice, some singers will appear in later recordings but in diminished form compared to this 55 stereo recording, Keilberth gives very good balanced music presentation providing solid base for singers to shine, everything comes together here for me

    The debut 51 Bayreuth performance is also excellent in amazing mono sound, a historical rebirth of Bayreuth festival and re-imagination by wagner grandchildren of the future direction and universal values to be experienced in wagner's art, essential for wagner collectors

    Last edited by DarkAngel; Oct-18-2017 at 04:20.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I'll go along with DA. An amazing recording.




    But along with it is the monumental Solti. An amazing studio recording.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Perhaps because I am so nekulturny, I continue to be intrigued by the strong preference for 50+ year old performances. Yes there were some exceptional singers then, and perhaps much fewer since, but I can't help but wonder how much that preference is based on received wisdom. To that end I have been thinking about posting some live Ring performances done in the last 30 years but with no information about the provenance, and invite members to listen and offer opinions. Before I go to the trouble of doing this, how many would be interested in participating? For various reasons, I will not post the links here but will only send them via PM/email. Is anyone interested?
    Last edited by Becca; Oct-18-2017 at 04:20.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    My problem with the Karajan Gotterdammerung is that the two principals have voices too light to really fill out the music, particularly Brilioth. Sonics aside, I actually prefer the live Salzburg performance, which has Jess Thomas instead.
    I don't mind Briloth's Siegfried in Gotterdammerung though I do concur that Jess Thomas's voice is better suited for the role. Thomas is Siegfried in the third opera of the Karajan/BPO Eloquence set. One can tell the difference and it's understandable that the listener would wish that Thomas on stayed on for Gotterdammerung. I have not heard the Salzburg performance of Gotterdammerung and thank you for bringing it to my attention.
    I love Regine Crespin's Brunnhilde in Karajan's Walkure. I think Helge Dernesch is very good in Gotterdammerung. Crespin may not have been an ideal Brunnhilde but I kind of like the slightly more vulnerable aspect of her Brunnhilde. She emotes in a most impressive way, wringing herself out in defiance of Wotan's wishes. That said, I love Regine Crespin's voice in anything.
    Last edited by KJ von NNJ; Oct-18-2017 at 04:37.

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    What a surprise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    My problem with the Karajan Gotterdammerung is that the two principals have voices too light to really fill out the music, particularly Brilioth. Sonics aside, I actually prefer the live Salzburg performance, which has Jess Thomas instead.
    I have heard this said but as I have both Karajan and Solti in this work, I can't find much difference in voice between Windgassen and Brillioth. Windgassen had a voice arguably too light fore the part as did most tenors apart from Melchior. The problem lies with Wagner's heavy declamatory writing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KJ von NNJ View Post
    I don't mind Briloth's Siegfried in Gotterdammerung though I do concur that Jess Thomas's voice is better suited for the role. Thomas is Siegfried in the third opera of the Karajan/BPO Eloquence set. One can tell the difference and it's understandable that the listener would wish that Thomas on stayed on for Gotterdammerung. I have not heard the Salzburg performance of Gotterdammerung and thank you for bringing it to my attention.
    I love Regine Crespin's Brunnhilde in Karajan's Walkure. I think Helge Dernesch is very good in Gotterdammerung. Crespin may not have been an ideal Brunnhilde but I kind of like the slightly more vulnerable aspect of her Brunnhilde. She emotes in a most impressive way, wringing herself out in defiance of Wotan's wishes. That said, I love Regine Crespin's voice in anything.
    The 1967-70 Karajan Salzburg Ring is well worth getting at operadepot.com, sound is very good and the live performance often provides some extra drama vs studio take, always wait for frequent sales to appear from vendor of 50% or more then stock up

    Last edited by DarkAngel; Oct-18-2017 at 14:34.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    The problem lies with Wagner's heavy declamatory writing.
    No it doesn't. The problem lies with singers who have inadequate voice coaching and poor technique. That and the desire to chase the mighty dollar and chase all over the world singing everything that's offered regardless of whether or not their voice is suited for that part or not. Flying hither and thither at the drop of a hat doesn't leave much time to let the voice rest and cabin air and pressure plays havoc with the vocal chords. Singers who used to take lengthy train or boat journeys between engagements gave themselves every chance of a longer career more so than a lot of singers today. It clearly can't be good for the voice to be singing Florestan in say London and then two days later to sing Siegfried in Berlin. It certainly sounds a good way to bring an already brief career to a premature conclusion.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; Oct-18-2017 at 17:44.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    Perhaps because I am so nekulturny, I continue to be intrigued by the strong preference for 50+ year old performances. Yes there were some exceptional singers then, and perhaps much fewer since, but I can't help but wonder how much that preference is based on received wisdom. To that end I have been thinking about posting some live Ring performances done in the last 30 years but with no information about the provenance, and invite members to listen and offer opinions. Before I go to the trouble of doing this, how many would be interested in participating? For various reasons, I will not post the links here but will only send them via PM/email. Is anyone interested?
    Count me in.

    N.

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    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    I have been thinking about posting some live Ring performances done in the last 30 years but with no information about the provenance, and invite members to listen and offer opinions. Before I go to the trouble of doing this, how many would be interested in participating? For various reasons, I will not post the links here but will only send them via PM/email. Is anyone interested?
    I certainly am. I agree with your basic point, that there are still some great singers of Wagner, such as Matti Salminen's Hagen. But we've also been subjected to some pretty dreadful singing, particularly in the roles of Brunnhilde and Siegfried. To some degree, this is an artifact of our modern age, where virtually every RING is telecast or broadcast to a wide audience, and many are released commercially - so every lousy piece of singing is immortalized. 50 years ago, the ability to hear these performances outside of the actual opera house was virtually nonexistent, and companies didn't release nearly as many complete Wagner recordings. So while we're hearing the cream from 50 years ago (and not hearing some of the casts that were inferior), we're hearing *everything* now, good and bad.

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