And so to the beginning. In my review, on this site, of Die
Walküre in this series (Guild GMCD 2214-17), I dealt with
the question of the conflation the two different performances therein,
and which Richard Caniell, father and visionary of this 'Dream Cycle',
sought to justify. Whilst that conflation brought together two broadcast
performances, albeit from different venues, I was prepared to accept that
the end product justified the means. In this Rheingold there is
also some 'faking', for want of a better word, to bring the purchaser
Caniell's vision of a dream cast with Kerstin Thorborg substituted as
Erda in place of Doris Doe. Caniell justifies this not only on the basis
of continuity with the rest of his 'Dream Cycle', but also that Doris
Doe in the 1937 broadcast was ‘so disappointing'. This makes the Guild
issue different from that issued by Naxos of the same broadcast. Caniell
also claims to have found better transfers, used here, with considerably
more overtones, albeit with more grit, and, sporadically, more surface
noise. You pay your money and take your choice!
The vocal quality of the cast lives up to their considerable
individual reputations. Whilst I might have been over-generous to Schorr
as the Walküre Wotan, here, three years earlier, he is nearer
his peak as the outstanding singer of the part in the 1920s and 1930s.
Rabich is an outstanding Alberich as is Branzell as Fricka. As to Thorborg's
Erda (CD2 tr16), certainly the voice is clearly conveyed and steady,
but who is the Wotan who sings first 'Wer bist du' and later
'Geheimnis- hehr'? I have to say the interpolation is only obvious
in the reversion to the thinner, rather wavery, orchestral sound. That
sound is the major drawback in this issue. The orchestra is set well
back and often sounds thin, not helped by Bodansky's flaccid conducting
which is not a patch on that of his more taut rendering heard in the
Siegfried broadcast of the same year and which is also part of
this 'Dream Cycle' (Guild GMCD 2207-2209).
The booklet is up to the usual excellent standard of
this series. Although not attributed to Caniell it has a knowledgeable
review of 'Ring' performances, of Rheingold, and Wagner and The
Ring. There is also a track-related synopsis, good artist biographies
and informative technical notes.
Even more than other issues in this 'Dream Cycle',
this is an issue which will mainly be of interest to Wagnerites used
to listening to historical performances. Many will already have the
Naxos issue, but, given its modest cost, will want to hear this set
Robert J. Farr
In response to your review of Guilds release of Rheingold in the dream
Ring, Mr. Farr states that the notes on the Ring, the Rheingold performance
and on Wagner are "not attributed." I refer you to the back
liner cover credit list in which it states:
"Concept, texts, photos and their correlation by Richard Caniell."
I had removed my name after each of the major articles in the booklet
because I thought it was annoying to keep encountering my name after
each piece. But, as an author, Id perhaps better go back to repeated
accreditation rather than have my lengthy notes reported as not accredited
(hence who wrote them?).
With respect to who the Wotan is who sings Wer bist du and later Gehemniss
herr etc. in the scene with Erda, it is Friedrich Schorr (singing in
the 1937 broadcast). If I had to bring in some other singer for Wotan
(while Schorr was available in the actual
broadcast), in order to accommodate my decision to have Thorborg sing
Erda, I simply wouldnt have done it. It is Schorr throughout.
About bringing in Thorborg, as my notes set forth, it wasnt only that
Doris Doe was disappointing in the original broadcast, it was the fact
that Thorborg sang Erda in our dream Ring Siegfried (1937), thus her
essayal of the role in Rheingold would complete her traversal of the
role. The same intention of completing each major singers essayal of
the role led to bringing in Branzell as Fricka in the dream Walkre because
she sang this role in Rheingold. This concept pervades the casting of
the dream Ring.
Perhaps Mr. Farr will offer a second view based on the facts I provide
or, in the alternative, you might publish this letter. Many thanks for
your interest in our series.
[Published with pleasure - Len Mullenger]