Richard Wagner

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b

    Description by Theresa Muir

    Of the four episodes of Der Ring des Nibelungen, Die Walküre is most often performed separately, and arguably may be Wagner's best-loved work. The source of this affection is certainly Wagner's sensitive depictions of Siegmund and Sieglinde's love, and the father-daughter relationship of Wotan and Brünnhilde. The work was first criticized for Siegmund and Sieglinde's incestuous love, but Wagner made them appealing, rendered their story with tenderness, and bestowed on them some of his most glorious music. In Die Walküre, Wagner achieved equality of music and words with flexible ease. Act One, in particular, is a masterpiece of rhapsodic melody joined to a tight plan of steadily rising tension released in successive climaxes as the two are drawn to each other and reveal their pasts.

    Act Two, Scene Two has one of the work's epic narrations ("Als junger Liebe Lust mir verblich"), as Wotan confesses his dilemma to his daughter Brünnhilde. These narrations in Wagner's dramas provide an opportunity to stop and reflect on events and to see them from the perspective of other characters. The device also allows Wagner to bring Leitmotifs strongly into play to represent the relationships of different characters, objects and ideas through their transformation, and thus he furnishes some of the most powerful psychological moments in the drama. As Wotan recalls the theft of the gold, the building of Valhalla, and the ring, each of their leitmotifs are heard; the motifs of the curse and the sword join the texture, and their accumulation drives the narration to its climax as Wotan confesses to his horrified daughter that he only desires one thing -- "das Ende, das Ende."

    Act Three opens with the well known "Ride of the Valkyries," in which Wotan's daughters, the Valkyries, assemble on their mountaintop after scouting a battlefield for dead warriors. Listeners acquainted with only the concert version may be surprised to hear the eight voices of the Valkyries over the orchestral texure, and one can understand the tremendous impact originally made in the theater by this curtain-raiser. In Wagner's Bayreuth theater, with the orchestra under the stage, the voices are much more prominent.

    The opera concludes with Wotan's impressive and moving farewell to Brünnhilde, as he leaves her to sleep, surrounded by a ring of fire. Much of this episode's material is new and unique, including the powerful melody with which Wotan exclaims his farewell; but it is punctuated by important motives such as Loge's fire, and introduces ones that will be important later in the drama, such as the sleep motive (closely related to Erda's characteristic music) and that of the downfall of the gods. The orchestral texture here is rich and full, with brass supporting Wotan's song, and a sweeping countermelody in unison cellos. Wotan's allusion to one "who does not fear the point of my spear," is set to the Wälsung motive, and strongly echoed in the brass, while rippling harps accompany a lilting lullaby-like motive in the upper woodwinds.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prelude
    2. No. 2, Wess' Herd dies auch sei
    3. No. 3, Müd am Herd fand ich den Mann
    4. No. 4, Friedmund darf ich nicht heissen
    5. No. 5, Ich weiss ein wildes Geschlecht
    6. No. 6, Ein Schwert verhiess mir der Vater
    7. No. 7, Schläfst du, Gast?
    8. No. 8, Der Manner Sippe sass hier im Sal
    9. No. 9, Winterstürme wichen dern Wonnenmond
    10. No. 10, Du bist der Lenz
    11. No. 11, War Wälse dein Vater
    12. No. 12, Siegmund heiss ich und Siegmund bin ich!
    13. No. 13, Prelude
    14. No. 14, Nun zäume dein Ross, reisige Maid!
    15. No. 15a, Hojotoho!
    16. No. 15b, Dir rat ich, Vater, ruste dich selbst
    17. No. 16, Der alte Sturm, die alte Müh!
    18. No. 17, So ist es denn aus mit den ewigen Göttern
    19. No. 18, Was verlangst du?
    20. No. 19, Deiner ew'gen Gattin heilige Ehre
    21. No. 20, Schlimm, fürcht ich, schloss der Streit
    22. No. 21, Als junger Liebe Lust mir verlich
    23. No. 22, Ein andres ist's
    24. No. 23a, Ihrem Willen muss ich gewahren
    25. No. 23b, So nimmst du von Siegmund den Sieg?
    26. No. 24, So sah ich Siegvaer nie
    27. No. 25, Raste nun hier; gönne dir Ruh'!
    28. No. 26, Siegmund! Sieh auf mich! (Todesverkundigung)
    29. No. 27, Du sahest der Walküre sehrenden Blick
    30. No. 28, Zauberfest bezähmt ein Schlaf der Holden Schmerz und Harm
    31. No. 29a, Der dort mich ruft
    32. No. 29b, Kehrte der Vater nur heim!
    33. No. 30a, Zu Ross, dass ich dich rette!
    34. No. 30b, Geh hin, Knecht! Knie vor Fricka
    35. No. 31, Hojotoho!
    36. No. 32, Schützt mich und helft in höchster Not!
    37. No. 33, Nicht sehre dich Sorgen um mich
    38. No. 34, Wo ist Brünnhild', wo die Verbrecherin?
    39. No. 35, Hier bin ich, Vater
    40. No. 36, War es schmählich, was ich verbrach?
    41. No. 37, Weil fur dich im Auge das eine ich hielt
    42. No. 38, So tatest du, was so gern zu fun ich begehrt
    43. No. 39a, Und das ich him in Stücken schlug
    44. No. 39b, Nicht streb, o Maid, den Mut mir zu stören
    45. No. 40, Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind!
    46. No. 41, Der Augen leuchtendes Paar
    47. No. 42, Loge, hör! Lausche hieher!
    48. No. 43, (Magic Fire Music)
    49. No. 44, (Ride of the Valkyries) (concert version)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186581
    2016 Eurodisc / Sony Classical 88875196452
    2016 Naxos 866039497
    2015 Walhall WLCD 0316
    2015 Walhall WLCD 0177
    2015 Decca B002330102
    2015 Farao Classics A 108088
    2014 Avie AVR 2313
    2014 Walhall WLCD 0217
    2014 Walhall WLCD 0247
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 939
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791148
    2013 Masterworks / Sony Classical 88765435042
    2013 Masterworks / Sony Classical 88765427172
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791560
    2013 Eurodisc / Masterworks 88725462232
    2013 Profil / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 10034
    2013 Myto Historical MCD 00324
    2013 Mariinsky MAR 0527
    2013 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186407
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099973530
    2012 Decca 4783702
    2012 Oehms Classics OC 929
    2011 Teldec 256467714
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 Sony Classical 8869785308
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 477 913-5
    2011 Oehms Classics OC 936
    2011 Decca
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779135
    2011 Decca 4783061
    2011 Warner Classics 676702
    2010 Orfeo 809113
    2010 Opus Arte 9002
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968859
    2010 Decca 478 236-7
    2010 Decca 4782367
    2010 Decca
    2010 EMI Classics / Virgin Classics 4578172
    2009 BBC/Opus DVD / Opus Arte OA CD9000B D
    2009 Myto Records 00204
    2009 Ars Produktion 38052
    2009 Decca / Eloquence 4801892
    2009 Orfeo 760091
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Oehms / Oehms Classics 926
    2009 Myto Records MCD 00185
    2009 Preiser Records 93457
    2008 IDIS 6549/51
    2008 Opera D'Oro OPD 1501
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951947
    2008 Decca 4780279
    2007 Urania 22316
    2007 EuroArts 2052078
    2006 Opera D'Oro 1500
    2006 Warner Classics
    2006 Melba Recordings 301091-94
    2006 Naxos 8660172-74
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 58705
    2006 Testament 1391
    2006 Document 223058
    2005 Madacy 50503
    2005 Caprice Records 21765
    2005 Orfeo 660 513
    2005 Gebhardt 60
    2005 Golden Melodram 10075
    2005 Urania 280
    2005 Myto Records 54317
    2005 Golden Melodram 10065
    2005 Archipel 0282
    2004 Gala Records 999791
    2004 Archipel 250-13
    2004 Gebhardt 56
    2003 Golden Melodram 10066
    2003 Archipel 113
    2002 Arte Nova 870752
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471678
    2002 Golden Melodram 10052
    2002 Gebhardt 40
    2002 Arte Nova 90068
    2001 Brilliant 99625
    2001 Melodram 10048
    2001 Philips 464751
    2001 Gebhardt 28
    2001 Chandos 3065
    2000 Music & Arts 4009
    2000 Gala Records 100652
    2000 Myto Records 974164
    2000 Chandos 3038
    2000 Urania 137
    1999 Winter & Winter 9100392
    1998 Golden Melodram 10027
    1998 EMI Classics 72731
    1998 Golden Melodram 10014
    1998 Opera D'Oro 1158
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 457785
    1998 Opera D'Oro 1155
    1997 London 440371
    1997 Decca / PolyGram 455 555-2DMO14
    1997 Myto Records 971152
    1997 London / Polygram 455559
    1996 Golden Melodram 1001
    1995 Philips 446057
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 445354
    1994 Preiser Records 90075
    1993 Teldec 91186
    1992 Philips 434422
    1991 London 430391
    1990 EMI Music Distribution 7671232
    1990 London 414105
    1988 EMI Music Distribution 49534
    1988 Deutsche Grammophon 423389
    1984 Philips 412478
    Myto Records 90316
    Testament 1426
    Arlecchino 4345
    Testament 1432
    IMPX 9033
    Arkadia 480
    Warner Classics 62091
    RCA Red Seal 55709
    London 41002
    Philips 000725702
    Virtuoso 99082
    Fonti Musicali 1000
    Philips 420325
    Forties 318.20
    Decca 470443
    Brilliant 99627
    Virtuoso 2699102
    EMI Music Distribution 7671272
    Le Monde de l'Opera 29
    Enterprise 318
    Laudis Records Suite 4011
    Foyer Records 2008
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 15
    Myto Records 93381
    Calig 703769
    London 414100