Monday, July 1, 2013

1953 Krauss Ring Cycle at Archivmusik

Surely this is the bargain of the century. Many have described the 1953 Krauss as the best ever recorded cycle. Certainly it's hard to imagine a better trio of principals than Hans Hotter as Wotan, Astrid Varnay as Brunnhilde, and Wolfgang Windgassen as Siegfried. Varnay in particular is outstanding. The depth of her characterization in the final drama is unparalleled. The quality of singing is almost uniformly excellent (the only exception being a truly awful Gutrune) and Krauss's conducting is lyrical and architectural in equal measure. 

The reissue by Opera d'Oro includes a full libretto with a new translation and has been remastered to yield a warm vocal sound (although the orchestral sound is rather muddy on occasion, as might be expected in a live recording from 60 years ago). 

If you can think of a better use for $50 please let me know.