Wagner: Die Walküre

Christopher Morley
The Birmingham Post (UK)
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Part of an ongoing complete Wagner Ring Cycle, this Australian offering, generously sponsored by enlightened enthusiasts, is the first to record the huge masterpiece in SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) surround sound.

Die Walküre is the most human of the four operas with its interaction between husband and wife, brother and sister, and the awakening of such basic relationships even among the gods. Appropriately, therefore, there is a great feeling of intimacy in this State Opera of South Australia production, live in performance almost exactly three years ago, and with a cast which includes names well-known over here in the old country (Lisa Gasteen, Deborah Riedel, among others).

  Theatrical atmosphere and a feeling of stage-movement add to the impact of this moving presentation, and the musicians of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the experienced and accomplished Wagner conductor Asher Fisch play on the edge of their seats – out of their socks, if you like – as they deliver this flickering, glowing score.

Picking out some of the famous moments as highlights – the flying-open of the door of Hunding's hut to reveal a moonlit spring landscape, the ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ (such a sense of theatre here), Wotan's Farewell – we are always aware that this is a genuine performance not manufactured in an arid studio. The downside is that applause comes far too soon at the heartbreaking end.

Beautifully presented, with a usefully informative insert-book, this is a Walküre to cherish...