OP3387. DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN, Live Performance, 1950, w.Wilhelm Fürtwängler Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Kirsten Flagstad, Ferdinand Frantz, Ludwig Weber, Hilde Konetzni, Max Lorenz, Set Svanholm, Günther Treptow, Alois Pernerstorfer, Sieglinde Wagner, Margret Weth-Falke, Magda Gabory, Angelo Mattiello, Albert Emmerich, Elisabeth Höngen, Joachim Sattler, Margareta Kenney, Emil Markwort, Walburga Wegener, Dagmar Schmedes, Ilona Steingruber, Polly Batic, Karen Marie Crkall, Josef Herrmann, Julia Moor, Peter Markwort, etc. 14-Opera d'Oro OPD 1154, 1155, 1156, 1157, Slipcase Edition. Out-of-print, ever-so-slightly used copy. - 723723291622
"No one matters more in a Wagner performance than the conductor, who must have a sense of the music’s structure and textures that makes sense both at key moments and over long arcs. Historically, the greatest name here is Wilhelm Furtwängler, who makes the works surge and cohere like no other."
- Martin Kettle, THE GUIARDIAN, 2 Aug., 2020
"THERE is nothing wrong with reveling in the distinguished history of Wagner performance. No recording gets at the core of the RING cycle as consistently as Wilhelm Furtwängler’s sober yet radiant version, recorded live at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, in 1950.”
- Zachary Woolfe, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 Aug., 2013
“The great bonus of the 1950 RING is the presence of Flagstad, here 54 years old. She is shorn of a few top notes but still hits all four top Cs in Act 2 of DIE WALKÜRE and both in the duet which concludes SIEGFRIED, even if the second one is only touched on. She takes the optional low A flat in the closing note. By this stage, Set Svanholm, too, is understandably tiring, yelping a few top notes and inevitably playing second fiddle to a fresher Flagstad but that extended, half-hour duet remains thrilling. We are otherwise privileged to hear her only extant complete Brünnhilde sung in sovereign voice. The middle of the voice occasionally curdles into a matronly tone but she is rock-steady and for the most part the top still rings out nobly….Flagstad’s vocal amplitude carries the day.
Ferdinand Frantz as Wotan had a big, grand, brazen bass-baritone but is in fresher and more expressive voice in 1950, wholly commanding and riding the orchestra at the end of DIE WALKÜRE but also softening his tone to bid his beloved daughter farewell. Set Svanholm copes manfully with Siegfried and shines in the forging scene….Höngen is a bit unsteady as both Fricka and Erda but she is marvellously acute with the text. Likewise, Ludwig Weber is rocky but imposing in no fewer than four roles: Fasolt, Hunding, the Dragon Fafner and Hagen. Konetzni’s bell-like soprano creates a spirited Sieglinde who is no milksop. She is a little careful but touching as Gutrune….All Furtwängler’s singers were hand-picked by him….”
- Ralph Moore, MusicWebInternational
“Next to Flagstad, the strongest voices belong to Ludwig Weber (Fafner) and Elisabeth Höngen (Erda), neither of whom is on stage for very long. What makes the performance special is the intensity and rhythmic suppleness of Furtwängler - the subtle way he underlines passages, the way the tempo expands and contracts, the intensity of the playing. This is a good orchestra, but he wasn’t necessarily the easiest conductor in the world to follow. They probably had had little experience with him, but they certainly rise to the occasion with minimal mishaps. The same thing goes for the playing and conducting in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG. Flagstad pours it on - the quality of her voice and her stamina are remarkable….Weber is a relatively subtle Hagen but has the power when he chooses to unleash it….I will yield to the temptation to refer to ‘the thankless role of Gutrune’ (which is almost a cliché) and sympathize with Hilde Konetzni, who sings it so well. As Waltraute, Elisabeth Höngen holds her own with Flagstad in their big scene - what more praise can I give? The various Norns (Konetzni doubles as number three) and Rheinmaidens are fine.”
- James Miller, FANFARE, Nov. / Dec., 2013