Melba Recordings

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Wagner: Die Walküre

Stereophile (US)
Richard Lehnert
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…listening to the two-channel tracks, I was impressed by the apparent vastness of the venue, the 2000-seat Adelaide Festival Theatre, which is not nearly as huge as it sounds here. The impression of great aural distances has evidently been created by a mixture of distant orchestral miking, the astonishing discipline of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Asher Fisch’s Apollonian, almost neoclassical restraint.


Those who like Karajan’s “chamber-music” recording of the Ring from the late 1960s will most appreciate what Fisch does here in interpretations diametrically opposed to Keilberth’s. The steady progress of Fisch’s medium tempos accrues a grandly cumulative inevitability. He marries this to an insistence on absolute discipline of orchestral ensemble and balance, and a punctilious observance of the voicing, duration, and rhythmic values of the score’s every note. The ASO performs flawlessly – I have never heard Wagner’s choirs of low brasses played so delicately, fluidly, seamlessly – but that describes all of the ASO’s instrumental families...


...In Die Walküre, Deborah Riedel’s Sieglinde is passionate and full-voiced throughout her range… Stuart Skelton’s Siegmund, however, is something special: a clear, dark, genuinely lyric heldentenor (if that’s not an oxymoron) full of emotional vulnerability-perhaps the finest singer I’ve heard in this role since Ben Heppner or even James King…the voice is gorgeous.