Marek Janowski

Wagner: Die Walküre

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Continuing PentaTone's brilliant super audio series of the music dramas of Richard Wagner, Marek Janowski, and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra present Die Walküre in a thoroughly compelling performance that has stunning multichannel sound. Previous releases in this critically praised series have shown some variability in the reproduction of the live performances, and this 2012 concert reading at the Berlin Philharmonie shows some problems in the direction and volume levels of the voices, but these are perhaps the only weaknesses in what is otherwise a strong rendition. Some members of the cast are by now familiar names to listeners who have followed this series. With Tomasz Konieczny as Wotan, Iris Vermillion as Fricka, PentaTone stalwart Robert Dean Smith as Siegmund, and featuring Petra Lang as Brünnhilde, the leads deliver solid characterizations and their singing rises to the high standards of the previous installments. Also important in the overall excellence of the recording is the riveting playing of the Berlin orchestra, which is fully present, vibrant, and sure to please fans who have enjoyed this ensemble's tremendous range of timbres, attacks, and dynamics. While this Walküre may not replace the cherished historical recordings of older collectors, it is a remarkable achievement for a modern Wagner production, and all the more stunning for being only the second of the four Ring operas to be released by this label in 2013. As a celebration of Wagner's bicentennial year, this recording and its companions are a handsome tribute and well worth exploring.

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