It is well documented
that Lothar Zagrosek does not hang about when it comes to Wagner.
This Walküre is no exception. His swift approach certainly leads
a fluency to the action, and - I am sure - eases matters for singers.
It almost seems like harking back to an earlier age of Wagner
interpretation, before tempi started to become slower and slower;
Zagrosek's Walkürenritt fairly zips along! And it is true
that the music-drama does not get off to the best of starts: there
is a distinct dramatic sag during the Prelude, when violin tremolandi
become literal and workaday very soon, or at the very end of Act
1. Yet Zagrosek can give full weight to some dramatic situations.
Try the hushed orchestral passage immediately prior to Siegmund's
announcement that he will await Hunding, track 3. Against this
is a counter-tendency to trivialise Wagner's accompaniments -
heard in embryo in the Prelude's tremolandi? - so that on occasion
they can even seem little more than a sort of 'Meyerbeer-plus'.
The entrance of Brünnhilde in Act 3 is perhaps the worst example
of this, with cellos pouncing along merrily while the action depicts
someone fleeing in terror!
None of the Act 1
soloists are less than good. In Angela Danoke's case, actually
much more than that. Her Sieglinde is pure of voice, touching
and vulnerable. Her slurs verge on the perfect, and, importantly,
her 'naming' of Siegmund as such - as opposed to 'Wehwalt' etc
- rises to the occasion.
Gambill, who tries to match his Sieglinde here, does not quite
succeed. Gambill can be rather strained in the higher reaches
of the part, and he can be guilty of trying to over-compensate
by over-emphasis. The Hunding, the Korean bass Attila Jun, does
sound quite evil. The brass motif that introduces him is one of
the orchestral highlights of the first act. The minus point here
is that there is a little bit of 'space' around his voice that
causes him to lose true focus on the vocal line.
Act 2 begins in sleepy
rather than anxious fashion. Yet here we have the privilege of
spending time with Renate Behle. Her Brünnhilde has also graced
Hamburg Opera's stage but since the 2003/4 season she has been
refocusing on mezzo roles. The Wotan/Fricka dialogue is superbly
managed on all sides and becomes very intense – one gets the impression
the performance has finally 'warmed in' by now. Jan-Hendrik Rootering's
Wotan mirrors the performance by taking some time to warm in;
he is only quite impressive at the 'Götternot' climax.
Zagrosek, similarly, is a little light; sometimes giving the impression
he is tracking Leitmotifs and little else. Best of Act 2 are the
Siegmund/Sieglinde Scene 3 exchanges.
I have already mentioned
the rather flat Ride of the Valkyries although to be fair the
singers do their best to inject at least some vim. Vocally Act
3 is the climax of the work here, with both Behle and Rootering
hitting form. 'War es so schmählich' is absolutely gripping, and
he pitches the line as he kisses away his favourite daughter's
Goddess status very accurately. His calls to Loge have an appropriate
A mixed Walküre,
then. I would like to have the DVD, to see exactly how everything
fits in … including the odd stage noise! In the interim, this
is an interesting, honest account that never in truth overwhelms
as mature Wagner should but nevertheless provides much to admire.
see also Review
by Göran Forsling