DIE WALKÜRE - BRUNO WALTER 1935
There are frustating aspects in the search for recordings of Wagner operas. Dealing with as many aspects as there are in a music drama, and especially the Ring operas, there is always something left to desire. There is almost always a wish to have things different than they are on record. Another singer for a certain role, another choice of tempi in certain passages, better sound quality. How much as I love good hifi-sound some of my favorite recordings are historical ones. Die Walküre conducted by Bruno Walter is one of them. A studio recording from 1935 that has this rare quality that it is near perfect. Even the sound, 30s mono, is more than acceptable. No distraction from tape hiss or other collateral sound deficits in the remastering for CD. The one mayor set back here is the fact that only the first act was completed in the 1935-sessions. The place initially meant for the recording sessions, Berlin, was abandonned because of the direct consequence of the rise of the Nazis. For Jewish artists it was no longer possible to work in Germany. Bruno Walter, Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund) and Lotte Lehmann (Sieglinde) moved to Vienna where they recorded the first act and parts of the second act. The rest of the second act was recorded in 1938 with another conductor, Bruno Seidler-Winkler, who took over from Bruno Walter who already had fled to America. In 1945, the third act was recorded with Artur Rodzinski at the helm, making this a kind of patchwork Walküre. But it is the first act under Walter that scores 5 out of 5 stars. Walter, a personal friend from Gustav Mahler, has a natural understanding with the score that makes you keep coming back for repetitive listening and Melchior and Lehmann are perhaps the best Walsungen twin I have heard so far. Especially Lotte Lehmann is wonderful. Her voice is full of compassion, she gives her brother on the run the comfort he is looking for and give consolation to the listener that there are opera recordings that, in fact, offer salvation.
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