A couple of glitches aside, the second instalment of Et'cetera's live Amsterdam Ring, the first to be based on the new critical edition, fulfills the promise of the Walkure (4/07). Only if your Nibelung home listening requires the full force of a modern orchestra in an in-your-face acoustic may you be disappointed. Haenchen's lithe pacing and balancing is especially alert to the folk-theatre element - the jokey, cackling dialogues between Mime and his various adversaries, so integral to Wagner's conception of "popular" opera. In this, the conductor is aided by Graham Clark and Girnter von Kannen with performances that go far beyond evil caricature. Clark's Mime revolves between comedy, insanity and despair, while von Kannen's delivery of Alberich's Act 2 monologue of frustration ("Wie stolz du draust...") is both scary and sympathetic.
Anne Gjevang really sounds like the wise but confused earth mother, pacing and phrasing her watershed scene with Wotan to perfection. And one of the leading Siegfrieds of today, Stig Andersen, is finally caught on disc. The voice may remind listeners of Alberto Remedios: not a huge weight of tone but always well used. Only in the final part of the Forging scene does he sound too distant for the song's heft. But, no matter, this is an impressive performance, which retains more than enough brightness and energy to match his Brünnhilde - Linda Watson in more confident, abandoned form than in Die Walküre. Wotan is magisterially delivered by Albert Dohmen: the part lies well for his true baritone, although there's a tendency to make all loud outbursts angry ones.
In other parts of the forest live a sonorous Father in Mario Luperi and the boy Woodbird of which Wagner dreamed. Memorably used in the stage production as a white-quiffed Puck, herald of both joy and doom, the sound (and pitching) of the Tolz Boys' young Master Schlotz remains, unseen, an acquired taste.
The live recording includes, of course, the odd orchestral fluff, plenty of stage noise, and an audio picture that suits multichannel speakers better. Overall, though, heeding of the critical edition's many advising notes, mostly about style and phrasing, has again produced a stimulating new look at a Ring score. Mike Ashman