Recorded live on November 22, 2012, in a concert setting, this performance of Das Rheingold continues Marek Janowski's exceptional hybrid SACD series of Richard Wagner's music dramas for PentaTone. Featuring powerful singers and the thrilling playing of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, this is the first opera in the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen, and the excitement that's needed to kick off the cycle is quickly generated in the opening Prelude. The cast's standouts are baritone Tomasz Konieczny as Wotan, mezzo-soprano Iris Vermillion as Fricka, tenor Christian Elsner as Loge, and baritone Jochen Schmeckenbecher as Alberich, and even though the rest of the singers vary in intonation and vocal quality, the characterizations of unruly and argumentative Norse gods, giants, and dwarves give the performers considerable latitude for uneven or even unlovely singing. For many audiophiles, the vibrant sonorities and crisp details of the Berlin orchestra are the major attraction, and Janowski elicits extraordinary playing that is brilliantly captured in the mutichannel recording. This opening part of Der Ring des Nibelungen promises great things to come in the rest of the operas, and PentaTone's entire Wagner Edition is a fitting celebration of the bicentennial of the composer's birth.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2