A powerful Wagner that lacks surprise

Christian Thielemann extracts great force from his orchestra for an atmospheric performance of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen

Composer: Wagner
Repertoire: Der Ring des Nibelungen
Artists: Soloists, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and Chorus/Christian Thielemann
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Opus Arte OA CD9000B D

Summarise 15 hours of music in 100 words? Perhaps it’s easiest to say that there are no big surprises here. Sound quality improves marginally on previous recordings made live at Bayreuth; balance is good but string detail isn’t what it is in the studio. Interpretation? Thielemann occasionally plays with the fluency of the music with lagging tempos and whacking great pauses, which by all accounts worked well on stage but for the ears alone aren’t revelatory. Overall, he gets awesome power and atmosphere from his players and a good show from most of his singers – Brit Andrew Shore is a superb Alberich.