Historic Archive

Wagner - Götterdämmerung
Bayreuth Festival Opera / Joseph Keilberth
Testament SBT4 1393
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So the great project reached its glorious close, “as magnificently conducted, played and sung as the rest of this revelatory Ring”. Thus said Alan Blyth of Joseph Keilberth’s legendary Götterdämmerung, an appropriately powerful end to his gripping Ring cycle and one never to be equalled in terms of cast, chorus or orchestra. Recorded live at Bayreuth in 1955, the performance unites an “unforgettably impressive” Astrid Varnay as Brünnhilde with Wolfgang Windgassen, whose Siegfried is at times unbearably tragic. “Neither singer tires throughout the performance, neither ever lowers his or her high standard of experienced and inspired Wagnarian performance,” said  AB. The other cast members are equally impressive: Josef Greindl surpassing his previous interpretations with a sinister, devious Hagen; Hermann Uhde an authentic Gunther; and Maria von Ilosvay instantly memorable as the compassionate Waltraute. An outstanding recording.

Thomas Keilberth (son of Joseph)
recalls Josef Greindl's performance
My especial memory of this Götterdämmerung cast is of Josef Greindl’s Hagen. In my view, no other Bayreuth interpreter has matched up to the colours he got in his voice, or to the tension he created onstage. He totally dominated every scene he was in. My father faithfully kept a diary of his every performance. After this Götterdämmerung, the 60th time he had conducted the opera, he wrote, “Act 1 – really good, the best yet; Act 2 – good; Act 3 – very good Funeral March.”

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