Wagner Götterdämmerung
Ludwig Suthaus, Martha Mödl, Alfred Poell, Sena Jurinac, Joseph Greindl, Alois Pernerstorfer, Margaret Klose, Hilde Rössl-Majdan, Magda Gabory
RAI Rome Orchestra - 1953

I am very happy to have finally gotten around to working on this Ring. Remastering a Ring is always very difficult for the lengths of the works, but this was worthwhile. I still prefer the La Scala Ring, but this one has many positive things about it. The orchestra is better at La Scala, but this is a better recording, in addition to a much quieter audience: the audience at La Scala was very noisy and very sick. The coughing, sneezing and sniffling is terrible. While the RAI orchestra was reinforced with musicians from other Italian orchestras, the Milan orchestra had reinforcements in the brass from Germany, making a bigger difference. The Rome Ring was not a fully staged performance and was performed an act at a time. This robs this Ring of the excitement of a fully live performance, but it is easier on the singers, avoiding problems like the exhaustion of Set Svanholm’s Siegfried in the final scene of Siegfried. Another advantage for this Ring is that it is complete, avoiding the cuts in the second act of Walküre and the first act of Siegfried. The singers have always been said to be better in this Ring, but I disagree with that assessment. There are some weak points in the La Scala Ring, such as the Rheingold Fafner, terrible, and the Mime. Joseph Hermann as the Wanderer is weaker than Frantz in the first two works of the cycle, as well as in the Rome Wanderer, but still noble. Also, Suthaus is wonderful as Siegfried in the Rome Ring, while I also like Svanholm and Lorenz in La Scala. On the other hand, Flagstad is unmatched in La Scala, and Frantz and Konetzni, who appear in both cycles, are better in Milan. I find that Windgassen is not well suited for Siegmund, with too light a voice and not heroic enough. I prefer Treptow in Milan, although Suthaus in the Vienna Walkúre is best. I read in Culshaw’s book, Ring Resounding, that Windgassen, while happy to do Siegfried in the Solti Ring, asked that he not be saked to do Siegmund. I suppose he did not think he was good in that role, or at least didn’t like it. Neidlinger as Alberich in Rome is excellent, but Pernerstorfer is also good, and is the Alberich in the Rome Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Read also the text in the page of the La Scala recording.

But the most interesting contrast is with the conducting. Furtwängler is at his best in La Scala. He was always at his best when fully “live”. In Rome, he is more subdued, although quite strong. It is amazing what he does with the orchestra in both Rings. I think that for any Furtwángler admirer, both Rings are essential.

We encourage you to also browse through the rest of our collection, including recordings from the creator of this website and remasters Eduardo Chibás, the renowned pianist Artur Schnabel and other historical directors