The Wagner Journal

Class of ’53: David Breckbill evaluates ambitious claims for the Krauss ‘Ring’

Class of ’53: David Breckbill evaluates ambitious claims for the Krauss ‘Ring’

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Reviews of Der Ring des Nibelungen, conducted Krauss, Bayreuth, 1953 (Orfeo, 13 CDs); Transfiguration: Wagner ‘Einsam in trüben Tagen’ (Lohengrin), ‘Dich teure Halle’, ‘Allmächt’ge Jungfrau’ (Tannhäuser), ‘Der Männer Sippe’ (Die Walküre), Liebestod (Tristan und Isolde), Strauss ‘Mein Elemer!’ (Arabella), ‘O bleib, geliebter Tag!’ (Daphne), ‘Es gibt ein Reich’ (Ariadne auf Naxos), 'Es ist kein Laut zu vernehmen’ (Salome), soprano Nylund, conducted Lintu (Ondine, 1 CD); The Ring Without Words: A Symphonic Synthesis by Lorin Maazel, conducted Maazel (EuroArts, 1 CD).

July 2011, Volume 5, Number 2, 89–94.

It seems well-nigh impossible to assess the Clemens Krauss Ring either afresh or dispassionately. From one perspective, this performance can be best understood when situated among the many recorded Bayreuth Rings taken from the Wieland Wagner production that held the stage in the Festspielhaus during the years 1951–8. Viewed as such, it has plenty of context against which to be evaluated: currently or recently available recordings feature significant portions of the 1951 cycles conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch and Herbert von Karajan, three complete versions under Joseph Keilberth (1952, 1953 and 1955, plus a Walküre from 1954 and additional performances of Walküre and Götterdämmerung from 1955), and three complete versions under Knappertsbusch (1956, 1957 and 1958). 

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