BBC Music Magazine - - Opera Reviews -


Gun-brit Bark­min, Daniel Brenna, Shenyang, Eric Half­var­son, Amanda Ma­jeski, Peter Kálmán, Michelle Dey­oung, Eri Naka­mura, Aurhe­lia Varak, Her­mine Hasel­böck, Sarah Cas­tle, Stephanie Houtzeel, Jen­ufa Gle­ich; Hong Kong Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra/jaap van Zwe­den

Naxos 8.660428 263.02 mins (4 discs) When Das Rhein­gold, the first in­stal­ment of the Naxos ★ong Kong Ring, was re­leased back in 2016, crit­ics and other lis­ten­ers were sig­nif­i­cantly im­pressed if not ac­tu­ally sur­prised to dis­cover the re­mark­able stan­dards on dis­play. By then, Jaap van Zwe­den had al­ready been the ★ong Kong Phil­har­monic’s mu­sic di­rec­tor for four years, and his ap­point­ment to suc­ceed Alan Gilbert in the same po­si­tion with the New York Phil­har­monic had al­ready been an­nounced.

Two years later the clear and de­ci­sive ap­proach he brought to Rhein­gold is once more ap­par­ent in a Göt­ter­däm­merung that brings Wag­ner’s cy­cle to its con­clu­sion in a blaze of glory, the or­ches­tral stan­dards and Van Zwe­den’s light but ef­fec­tive touch both el­e­ments of the high­est qual­ity.

Wag­ner’s vo­cal chal­lenges are also met full-on, if with less con­sis­tent suc­cess. While Daniel Brenna’s Siegfried is tire­less, his nasal vo­cal­ism doesn’t al­ways pro­vide an easy lis­ten. Though Shenyang’s Gun­ther is firm, even at times fierce, his tonal colours rather sug­gest a fu­ture ★agen – a role taken here with a blend of sub­tlety and com­mand by Eric ★alf­var­son. Peter Kálmán pro­vides a creepy in­ter­ven­tion as Al­berich.

Of the fe­male roles, Gun-brit Bark­min’s Brünnhilde is once again ad­mirable in her abil­ity to main­tain qual­ity tone through­out in an ap­proach that com­bines lyri­cism with dra­matic fo­cus. Amanda Ma­jeski’s liq­uid so­prano is well cast as Gutrune, though Michelle Dey­oung’s at times un­gainly tone lim­its the im­pact of Wal­traute’s scene. The three com­bined choirs form a fear­some gang of Vas­sals, and the smaller roles are all finely done. Ge­orge Hall



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