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Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Scenes from The Ring of the Niebelung
Die Walkure (1870): Ein Schwert wehieß mir der Vater [6:32]; Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond [3:31]; Siegmund heiß ich und Siegmund bin ich [3:27]
Siegfried (1876): Notung! Notung! Neidches Schwert! [7:33]; Hoho! Hoho! Hohei! Schmiede mein Hammer, ein hartes Schwert! [6:06]; Das der mein Vater nicht ist [6:13]; Noch einmal, liebes Vöglein [6:34]; Selige Öde auf sonniger Höh! [13:52]
Götterdämmerung (1876): Siegfrieds Rheinfahrt [5:17]; Brünnhilde, heilige Braut! [5:13]; Trauermarsch [6:34]
Ben Heppner (tenor)
Burkhard Ulrich (baritone)
Staatskappelle Dresden/Peter Schneider
rec. Lucaskirche, Dresden, September, October 2005.

Purists might frown upon another “bleeding chunk” collection of music from Wagner’s ring cycle, but I would invite them to put away their possible indignation and run, not walk to the nearest record shop and add this splendid disc to their collections. Ben Heppner, who is perhaps the world’s leading heldentenor, has never been in better form than in these magnificent recordings. And, true to form, the Staatskappelle Dresden proves itself to be one of the world’s truly great orchestras. How marvelous it is that this wonderful organization is getting ever more exposure!
I cannot remember when I have heard such clear, focused and truly gorgeous singing from any big name singer than what I heard in this recording. Ben Heppner has ample power, and yet he never sacrifices beauty of tone for the sake of sheer volume. We are captivated by his utter command of the music from the very first note. Amongst the stand-outs is the breathtaking rendition of Winterstürme, as Heppner makes this grand arioso sound as easy as a Schubert song. The sword forging song (Hoho! Hoho! Hohei!)  is a thrill a note as Heppner rips through the music with youthful agility.
The Staatskappelle provide us with two splendid orchestral interludes with Siegfried’s Rhein Journey and the ever powerful Trauermarsch. Peter Schneider paces the works beautifully and the sonorous sound of the orchestra is simply a marvel to hear.
Burkhard Ulrich joins in to sing Mime in two scenes from Siegfried and delivers first rate performances. The program notes are perfect in their brief but clear summary of the convoluted plot line, making the listening experience that much more engaging as it is so easy to follow the story.
This is a coup for Mr. Heppner, a disc deserving of any number of awards. I cannot speak highly enough of this superb accomplishment.
Kevin Sutton


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