WAGNER Götterdämmerung – Keilberth
So the great project reaches its glorious close, as magnificently conducted, played and sung as the rest of this revelatory Ring. One wonders anew at the fidelity of the sound, the dedicated intensity of the orchestra and the uniform strengths of every member of a memorable cast, the like of which is hardly likely to be heard again in a Ring at Bayreuth or anywhere else. As I write, the noble peroration still haunts my ear, a summation of everything that has gone before, Keilberth making it the fitting end of his electrifying interpretation.
Before that Varnay has crowned her unforgettably impressive and thought-through Brünnhilde with an elevating account of the Immolation, just as Windgassen has capped his whole Siegfried with a sad, tragic account of the death monologue, and keenly recounted his extraordinary feats in his ebullient Narration. Earlier they are formidable antagonists in the Act 2 accusations and counter-accusations. Neither singer tires throughout the performance, neither ever lowers his or her high standard of experienced and inspired Wagnerian performance.
The dark side of the work is just as well catered for. Greindl has other Hagens to his credit on disc from Bayreuth but I doubt if any is as dark, menacing or as truly sung as this one. Uhde, the staging’s essential Gunther, is wholly inside the role and sings it with just the right balance between heroism and weakness. At the start of Act 2, Neidlinger’s Alberich makes his final appearance and is as imposing as ever. Brouwenstijn’s Gutrune is a bit trembly but creates a definite character, hard to do in this role.
Absolutely unforgettable is Von Ilosvay’s urgent, womanly Waltraute. How could any heroine turn down her pleading for Brünnhilde to return to the Gods? Tireless, she also sings an excellent First Norn and the other two singers complete a trio who never allow that awkward Prologue to sag. The Rhinemaidens provide welcome relief at the beginning of Act 3 with their nicely pointed singing. So, as I say, there are no weaknesses in the cast and certainly not in the powerful incursion of the Wilhelm Pitz-trained chorus in Act 2.
All the participants seem aware that they are taking part in a memorable reading and are determined to give of their very best. I am quite certain that this cycle will be hailed everywhere as the one to have, wearing its 50 years lightly and in every respect fulfilling Wagner’s exigent demands.