OP0397. DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN, Live Performance, 1953, w.Krauss Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Wolfgang Windgassen, Ramón Vinay, Astrid Varnay, Regina Resnik, Hans Hotter, Hermann Uhde, Josef Greindl, etc. (France) 7-Rodolphe 'double durée' RPC 32503.9, accompanied by sheet for 'sceniconcepts' adaptor instructions (since this will not play on conventional playback equipment). Boxed Set, with Elaborate Booklet featuring full libretto. Outstanding sound! Very long out-of-print, final copy! - 3322220325037
“…this Krauss performance, in amazingly good sound, captures a level of conducting inspiration and of consistent vocal and dramatic insight probably never equaled by any other recorded RING, live or studio.
Krauss is best remembered as a Strauss specialist (Richard and Johann, Jr.). This was the only summer he conducted at Bayreuth, sharing the RING with Joseph Keilberth and also leading PARSIFAL. He died suddenly in May of 1954, at the age of 61. And yet he proves himself a magisterial Wagnerian, quicker and more intense than more overtly Germanic conductors like Furtwängler or Hans Knappertsbusch, but full of a lyricism that balances his quite remarkable passion.
The love duets in the first act of DIE WALKÜRE and the third act of SIEGFRIED, as well as the oaths on the spear in Act II of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, attain a rare intensity. But lesser moments, like the coltish beginning of Act II of DIE WALKÜRE or the jocular/truculent second scene of the third act of SIEGFRIED are likewise enlivened. This is quite simply a great interpretation.
The singers, too, have rarely been equaled as an ensemble. This was Windgassen's first summer of Siegfrieds at Bayreuth, and while he later learned to express himself more poetically, he was never in fresher, more generous voice. Hotter is at his peak as Wotan, firm and sure, and Varnay brings a wonderful womanly intensity to Brünnhilde, with little of the edgy, constricted quality that mars some of her singing elsewhere. Greindl, too, who soon developed an annoying wobble, is in solid technical command here, and down the line (with a couple of lesser exceptions) this is a cast of practiced, inspired Wagnerians that would be hard to match today…. do yourself a favor: if you love Wagner, get this RING ….It's a performance for the ages.”
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 June, 1988
"Rodolphe's recording attempts to save space and money by recording one mono track on each of the two stereo channels per disk. They provide instructions for a 'splitting' device which sits between the CD player and the amplifier which will allow one to switch between the channels. Needless to say, this method was very short-lived!"
-Z. D. Akron
“1953 was the third year of 'New Bayreuth', with the pattern each year of two cycles of the RING, several performances of PARSIFAL, and two other dramas, one in a new production, being established. In 1953 the major crises was the absence of Hans Knappertsbusch, who in the first two years had already come to be the backbone of the musical side. So, rather late in the day, Wieland Wagner summoned to Bayreuth two conductors of the generation after Knappertsbusch: Clemens Krauss to conduct PARSIFAL and the second cycle of the RING, and Joseph Keilberth to conduct the first RING cycle and the new production of LOHENGRIN.
This was the first year in which Hans Hotter sang all three Wotans, and he is in stupendous form the whole way through. For the first time at Bayreuth Martha Mödl sings Brünnhilde, and she too is at her finest, that unmistakeable voice full and warm. And this was also the first year that Wolfgang Windgassen sang Siegfried, a role he made his own for at least the next 15 years. In 1953 he sings with a volume and energy which has him in line with his predecessors rather than his successors.
This Cycle (and the later one under Clemens Krauss) established the major figures for the next five years, Hotter always as Wotan, Varnay and Mödl more or less alternating as Brünnhilde, and Windgassen, with one exception, Siegfried, similarly Gustav Neidlinger as Alberich. No more satisfactory RING cast has been assembled since, indeed none can touch it.”
- Hans Lick