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Widely regarded as the greatest Wagner recording ever made
This stunning remastering leaves all previous issues redundant
This recording is legendary - it is frequently held up as the greatest recording ever made of music by Wagner, despite its vintage sound. My aim, therefore, was simple to describe, if not so simple to achieve: to get beyond that vintage sound and elevate it to a level which would bring dramatic and significant new life to the recording - to literally leave previous issues in the past. I believe I've succeeded beyond all expectations - certainly my own. By applying the very latest XR remastering techniques I've been able to lift the sound quality of this recording to a level I would not have considered possible just a few weeks ago.
At the time of writing I regard this as my finest ever remastering work. As one respected reviewer put it to me ahead of release:
You've done wonders here; if I hadn't recognised Lehmann's voice, I'd never have believed this dates from 1935. I'm not surprised this has been described as the cream of all Wagner performances. The detail is all there, the balance is superb and there's an ample acoustic preserved from the originals allowing the voices to expand naturally. There's such depth to the soundstage, too...
But what is it that is so special about this particular, single-act-only recording? Here I hand over to the Wagner experts - the reviewing public, as remarked on websites around the world in reference to previous issues of this legendary recording:
Made in Vienna in 1935, this recording of probably the most popular act of the Ring Cycle has always been the benchmark. It employs three unbelievable singers, under the glorious conducting of Bruno Walter...Lauritz Melchior is unquestionably the greatest Heldentenor who ever lived. Here he is in fabulous voice, even by his standards, and he is so much more involved and intelligent when he is working with a great conductor...Lotte Lehmann is just as fabulous as Melchior. She has a very beautiful voice ideal for Sieglinde: solid at the core but soft-edged, and she too has model diction and excellent legato...finally, we come to the conducting of Bruno Walter. Helped by the radiant playing of the Vienna Philharmonic, he conjures up Wagner's unique world of blended sound and emotion like no one else on record. He is as warm and lyrical as is possible, but realizes all the drama, and never goes over the top...
...[Lehmann] can be heard at her best in this recording of the first act of "Die Walküre" made in Vienna in 1935. It preserves one of her most famous operatic portrayals. Few Sieglindes have conveyed so much in their singing: first an eager curiosity, then a guarded welcome, a wondrous admiration, an intensity in the narration, and finally an impassioned ecstasy. Such singing lives on in the listener's memory. Melchior is also represented at his best, but the hero of the proceedings is the conductor Bruno Walter. Under Walter's direction the performance has a sweep, a warmth, a glow and a tenderness that I have never heard equalled...
Spectacular! There is simply no better CD version of this opera, despite being recorded in 1935. "Du bist der Lenz" with Lotte Lehmann has never been surpassed. This CD is a "MUST HAVE" for any serious music lover. Modern recordings obviously have better sound, but the singers are like pygmies compared to these two giants - Melchior and Lehmann.
WAGNER Die Walküre (Act 1)
Recorded in Musikvereinssaal, Vienna 20-22 June 1935
Issued as UK HMV 78s HMV DB 2636-43
Matrix nos. 2V94-109, Takes 1, 2, 2, 1, 3A, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2A, 2, 1A, 1, 1, 1
Restoration and XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May-June 2008
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Lauritz Melchior as Seigmund
Total duration: 61:58
Lotte Lehmann: Sieglinde
Lauritz Melchior: Siegmund
Emanuel List: Hunding
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Bruno Walter