Wagner: Das Rheingold

Reviewed on Thu 21 Jan, 2016

The strong international cast emphasise textual clarity, and the atmospheric recording from live concerts captures character interaction well ... this opening instalment in Naxos’s Ring cycle represents a bargain.

Here's a Das Rheingold that punches well above its weight and price bracket. Tempo-wise, Jaap van Zweden, like Karajan and unlike Gergiev (reviewed 27 August 2013), takes his time, yet the action moves along and builds in dramatic tension thanks to dedicated playing from his Hong Kong forces. The strong international cast emphasise textual clarity, and the atmospheric recording from live concerts captures character interaction well. There is much to enjoy in Matthias Goerne’s surprisingly authoritative and eloquently sung Wotan, Michelle DeYoung’s direct Fricka, and Kim Begley’s characterful Loge. Peter Sidholm’s Alberich and David Cangelosi’s Mime scheme wonderfully, and the Rhinemaidens are poised in their watery element. Kwangchul Youn’s Fasolt and Stephen Milling’s Fafner are imposing giants, even if their anvils don’t sound nearly up to the job. Whether you're seeking an alternative to Solti (Decca), Karajan (DG), Boulez (Philips) or Keilberth (Testament) or simply want Wagner on a budget, this opening instalment in Naxos’s Ring cycle represents a bargain. Introductory notes and synopsis included; downloadable libretto and translation.
–Evan Dickerson