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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883).
Das Rheingold. Excerpts
Loge, Helmut Melchert (ten); Wotan, Ferdinand Frantz (bar); Fricka, Johanna Blatter (cont); Alberich, Benno Kusche (bar); Erda, Rut Siewart (m. sop); Donner, Josef Metternich (bass)
Orchestra of the Staatskapelle Berlin/Rudolf Kempe
Recorded Grunewaldkirche, Berlin. 1959
BERLIN CLASSICS ETERNA COLLECTION 0032622BC [47.29]


I have spent nearly a month intermittently trying to source the provenance of this issue, a task as difficult as ascertaining its purpose in the market place. None of the singers has particular distinction and there are some examples of excess of vibrato and vocal spread to be heard. Recorded a year after Decca embarked on their monumental ground breaking ‘Ring Project’, this was, perhaps, another company giving us a brief example of Kempe’s somewhat more languid and shaped interpretation compared to Solti’s more dynamically driven version. Whatever, 47 minutes of an opera that lasts two and one quarter hours is sparse measure and I assume that length to be related to two LP sides. The recording itself is set at a fairly high level, the voices well forward, the whole in an over-reverberant ‘swimmy’ acoustic. The leaflet has an interesting essay, in German and English, and a good summary of the plot. It is a pity that there is no reference to the five tracks of the disc in that plot summary; what is a listener to make of track 1 which simply states ‘Auf dem Grunge des Rheines’ and lasts 21 minutes?

This is the least successful of the recent issues in this series from Berlin Classics. Only Wagner addicts, or Kempe enthusiasts, will find much enjoyment or interest.

Robert J Farr

 



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