One of the greatest recorded performances of Die Walküre
An astonishing sonic resurrection of this all-time classic - superb in all respects
Live concert recording, Bayreuth Festival, 9th August 1953
CD, MP3 and FLAC information:
CDs: Triple set - The second act of this recording is a little too long for a single CD and so it has been necessary to fade the audio (during a natural pause in the music) in order to accommodate the recording on audio CDs - Act 2 begins at the end of CD1 and concludes on CD2. Acts 1 and 3 are presented uninterrupted on CDs 1 and 3 respectively.
FLACs: No fades have been applied to the FLAC files. If you wish to transfer FLACs to audio CD you may of course split the recording wherever you prefer from the tracks you download. If you're listening from a non-CD source replay will be continuous through each act. There is a "fade to black" between acts.
MP3: Purchasers will receive two sets of files, both as Zip files within a single large Zip file:
- a single long, continuous MP3 with no breaks within acts, together with accompanying cue sheet for track splitting
- a trio of MP3s which correspond to the three CDs as outlined above, complete with individual cue sheets
Please check our help section for help with FLAC, MP3, Cue and Zip files.
A few short weeks before this recording was issued we took our first tentative steps in the remastering of this, one of the greatest Ring cycles of all time, with our issue of Das Rheingold. Noting that the entire cycle was available elsewhere at budget price, the decision to spend the enormous time and effort involved in producing a full XR remastering of these increasingly lengthy operas was taken with some trepidation. I wanted to be absolutely sure that I could bring a major transformation to the sound quality of the recordings - one which not only satisfied me, but also the legions of Wagner lovers who already knew these recordings well.
The responses to that first Rheingold issue were nothing if not encouraging:
"...the Krauss is my favourite Ring of the moment, and I own it in two other incarnations, so I am in a good position to judge the improvements that Andrew Rose has achieved. The sound is more open and focused than ever before and it is a real treat to hear the finest singers of their generation sing their signature roles in a faithful representation of the Bayreuth ‘noise’. The audio spectrum has been cleaned at the top and opened out at the bottom. Hans Hotter sings his best Wotan, slightly more sensitively than for Keilberth in the Testament stereo Ring, and in far fresher voice than for Solti in the 1960s. Astrid Varnay is marvellous as Brunnhilde, and has the benefit of really attentive, flexible conducting. Clemens Krauss’ approach may not be to everyone’s taste, being at the other end of the tempo spectrum to Knappertsbusch, but to my ears the naturalness of what he does serves the composer without drawing attention to itself..."
"...I just downloaded and played he 53 Krauss Rheingold that you recently released. it is utterly fantastic! Much more alive than the CDs out there. When will Die Walkure be released?..."
"Yesterday I downloaded your XR remastering of Das Rheingold. What a superb job you have done with it. I own the Krauss Ring on Archipel, but what an astonishing improvement the Pristine version means. I just would let you know, since I am so enthusiastic about it. Looking forward to Die Walküre!..."
Since these initial comments from listeners, I've been continually nagged by e-mails requesting Die Walküre, and naturally given the success of Das Rheingold, I was somewhat nervous with regard to my ability to match up to that standard.
I should not have been. If anything, this was a better-made recording to begin with. This of course makes sense - recorded a day after the first Ring opera, the opportunity would have been there to make adjustments to microphone placement and recording equipment based on the experience of the previous day's taping.
As a result, Die Walküre frequently surpasses Das Rheingold in overall sound quality - it truly sounds wonderful throughout. I've managed to deal with various faults which existed in the recording - hums, high frequency tones, occasional drop-outs, a tendency to high-frequency 'fuzz' around 10kHz, and removed a number of coughs and other intrusions.
But above all the delight for this listener of this new remastering will be the absolute clarity and stunning sound quality of the whole - the perfect balance of orchestra and voice for which Bayreuth was designed is conveyed brilliantly in one of the finest opera recordings and performances I've ever heard.
Technical notes by Andrew Rose