Die Walküre

Ferenc Fricsay
Orchester der Städtischen Oper Berlin
10 June 1951
Theater des Westens Berlin
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
SiegmundLudwig Suthaus
HundingJosef Greindl
WotanJosef Herrmann
SieglindeMaria Müller
BrünnhildePaula Buchner
FrickaMargarete Klose
HelmwigeFia Fleig
GerhildeIrina Grunow
OrtlindeClaire Breske
WaltrauteFlora Schmalz
SiegruneHilde Grohmann
GrimgerdeEmmi Hagemann
SchwertleiteCharlotte Schablen
RoßweißeElisabeth Hufnagel

According to Myto’s booklet notes, this live 1951 Berlin State Opera Die Walküre was taped by German Radio for broadcast purposes but never transmitted in toto. By and large it’s a vivid and exciting performance. The microphone placement captures a true synergy between stage and pit, and some of the prompter’s cues for that matter. This helps convey a palpable sense of theater to home listeners. Sound-wise, I’d rank this several degrees above the Furtwängler La Scala Ring, with not much bottom in the low strings, occasional sibilant distortion at loud moments, and more noticeable background hiss and less presence during Act 3’s first 20 minutes.

Fricsay’s taut, rhythmically alive conducting doesn’t always translate into fine orchestral playing, but you can tell certain things were carefully rehearsed (or at least sound it), like the beautifully controlled soft passages preceding the Magic Fire music, the complex climactic scene ending Act 2, and the brooding transition music linking Act 1’s three scenes. The conductor miscalculates but once: he takes the Ride of the Valkyries at a sluggish, earthbound clip that does no favors for the flying sisterhood.

Some of the singing is marvelous, though, particularly Margarete Klose’s full voiced and fiercely determined Fricka. Josef Greindl’s dark, menacing Hunding contrasts to Ludwig Suthaus’ rather emotive Siegmund: the tenor’s studio version with Furtwängler is more focused dramatically and better sung. Maria Müller’s rich, ardent Sieglinde gets better as Act 1 progresses. As Brünnhilde, Paula Buchner barely makes it through “Ho-yo-to-ho”, but fares best in low-lying, conversational passages where she doesn’t have to sustain long pitches. The veteran baritone Josef Hermann is a dry, monochrome Wotan, but it’s probably not fair to judge him by this recording. Apparently he felt indisposed during the performance and did not want it broadcast. So while this isn’t among the best of the umpteen live Die Walküres from the post-war era floating around on independent labels, its virtues are worth your consideration.

Artistic Quality: 7
Sound Quality: 5

Jed Distler

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Myto, Line, HO
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Technical Specifications
532 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 824 MiB (flac)
Recorded for broadcast but never transmitted