CDs / DVDs

Gramophone (GB), 01. Dezember 2007
Ring CD, Awards 2007, Gramophone Seite 67
This singer is heard (and seen) to better effect on his home ground in the first leg of the Amsterdam Ring created by conductor Hartmut Haenchen and stage director Pierre Audi. This newest complete cycle appears in two sets of performances - the DVDs from the premiere run, the CDs from the later, partly recast, revival. In the nearest yet to a period-instrument Ring on record, Haenchen's is an interpretation for the 21st century, using in scrupulous detail the multitude of hints about dynamics, balance, instrumentation (especially of percussion and sound effects) contained in the very recent New Critical Editions of the score. He eschews late-Romantic bombast in favour of a sound world and balance familiar from Mendelssohn's fairy-tale music and Liszt's tone-poems - a real alternative to other versions. Dutch veterans Bröcheler (Wotan) and Henk Smit (Alberich), their successors for CD Albert Dohmen and Günter von Kannen, the ubiquitous Graham Clark (Mime), a mature but still stylish and alive Jeannette Altmeyer (Briinnhilde on DVD), Stig Andersen's smart, youthful Siegfried (CD) and Anne Gjevang as Erda and a Waltraute that for understanding of the role you'd want on a desert island, are the picks of a fine bunch. The later CDs predictably find Haenchen and his orchestra giving more dramatic and spontaneous performances, but the DVDs should be seen for the freshness of Audi's theatrical thinking, and his reinvention of "deconstructionist" effects.
Mike Ashman