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This second instalment in the Mariinsky label’s complete Ring cycle recording provides much pleasure. Gergiev’s conducting is rich in detail (listen to the woodwind in the Ride of the Valkyries, where the brass usually annihilates everything else), taut with drama and yet managing to remain spacious – he really does resist the urge to rush, push the volume up and drown his singers. The cast is deluxe, caught at the height of its combined vocal prowess. René Pape’s Wotan is smooth and warm of tone, no barking here but an even ascent from bottom to top of the voice, and he is as ever an intelligent artist. Nina Stemme’s Brünnhilde is equally alert to dramatic detail – she does actually sound young and vibrant, and her soprano is rich and strong. Anja Kampe’s Sieglinde and Jonas Kaufmann’s Siegmund are ardent and heat things up (though with some occasional sharpness from him), and Mikhail Petrenko’s Hunding is suitably forbidding. Only Ekaterina Gubanova’s Fricka, though well vocalised, seems overshadowed by such grand company. The Valkyries prove, as so often, vocally variable.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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