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“…a quite remarkable performance from New Bayreuth's golden era, with an underrated conductor and truly classic cast. …Hotter's magnificent Wotan… his verbal sensitivity and expressive range make this tragically sympathetic characterisation unequalled on disc. ...the performance as a whole sounds splendid, carrying one along with immense dramatic sweep.”
“Very properly, Hans Hotter, as Wotan, dominates this utterly absorbing and exciting account of Walküre, the second instalment of the rediscovered Keilberth Ring at Bayreuth in 1955. There exist several other incarnations of his dominant reading but perhaps only that in the Krauss cycle of 1953 reveals him in such superb form. Whether arguing the moral toss with von Milinkovi?'s harrying Fricka, sunk in deep desolation after his capitulation to his spouse (Wotan's long narration so full of insights, not for a moment dull), his fury at Brünnhilde's disobedience and his final relenting in an unforgettable account of the Farewell, Hotter commands every aspect of the role. His sonorous, wide-ranging voice is matched by his verbal acuity, text and tone in ideal accord. This, much more than his portrayal in the Solti cycle, when his voice often struggles with the part, is the performance to judge him by. As ever, his long-standing stage partnership with the Brünnhilde of Astrid Varnay pays many dividends. She, too, is in prime form; she, too, melds words and voice into a well-nigh perfect unity. Not even a god could fail to response positively to her appeals to be forgiven, and that follows a warmly sung and deeply considered account of the the Todesverkündigung in Act 2. That wonderfully moving scene also finds Ramón Vinay's Siegmund in most eloquent form. As throughout the first two acts, his singing benefits from his attractively plangent tone and, in Act 1, his tale of his sad plight. That, of course, turns to ecstasy in the glorious love music that ends Act 1, where Gré Brouwenstijn's womanly, vibrant Sieglinde is a fit match. She is properly distraught and guilt-ridden in Act 2 but – as so many lyrical sopranos have found – the taxing passages in Act 3 prove a shade beyond her. In Act 1, Keilberth's direction takes a while to catch fire. From the exciting start of Act 2 he is in his most persuasive form, he and his fine orchestra projecting the manifold events and changes of mood with a persuasively dramatic drive. The Ride of the Valkyries whizzes along, Wotan's fury is frightening, the Magic Fire music elating. Once more, he proves that this was the year his Ring came into its own. The recording is again amazingly lifelike, catching the excitement of a notable occasion on the Green Hill. The stage noises are hardly ever distracting, nor should one be too bothered by two or three moments when a singer forgets his or her words. Altogether we are here in the highest realm of Wagnerian interpretation.”
“Hans Hotter's Wotan dominates this utterly absorbing and exciting account of Walküre, the second instalment of the rediscovered Keilberth Ring at Bayreuth in 1955, following on from the much-lauded Siegfried… Hotter command every aspect of the role. His sonorous, wide-ranging voice is matched by his verbal acuity, text and tone in ideal accord. ...Astrid Varnay... too, is in prime form; she, too, melds words and voice into a well nigh perfect unity.”
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