Israeli conductor Asher Fisch conducted these forces in 2004 in an ambitious Australian performance of the Wagner Ring Cycle – three operas (Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung) and two and a half hours of operatic prelude called Das Rheingold. Melba’s fine recordings were the first in surround sound super audio as well as crystal-clear two channels and earned worldwide acclaim.
“Sensationally recorded...the best-sounding cycle on the market to date, bar none”, Gramophone (UK) decided.
It is no surprise that this Australian triumph now becomes available in highlights. It is still a total of two and a half hours of splendid music recorded in remarkably fine detail and balance between singers and orchestra, with a thrilling ambiance overall. The singers are a very strong cast, with both John Brocheler (as Wotan) and Lisa Gasteen (as Brünnhilde) superb in their roles. Turn the volume up to enjoy all the performances; you need to anyway, since the recording level seems low. Probably to avoid muddying of sounds by dynamic compression.
Take a bow, Maestro Fisch, for keeping Wagner beautifully in place, giving us a Ring which we must respect but also can almost feel the human emotions of the cast, rather than just admire the dramatic scale of a mythical epic – “the beginning and end of the world”, as Wagner told Liszt.
Of course, Melba includes its deluxe packaging with a 128-page booklet, librettos etc. The highlights are well chosen, with, of course, ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ included.
Applaud: Spectacular sound; deserves many accolades.