WAGNER Siegfried: act III
Pietari Inkinen, conductor
Lise Lindstrom (Brünnhilde)
Stefan Vinke (Siegfried)
Deutsche RP Saarbrücken
SWR 19078 (59:12)
This release should probably be treated as a sampler. It presents a
cut-down version of Siegfried act III—scene
1 with the Wanderer and Erde is omitted—from 2018 concert performances in Saarbrücken.
That’s not much use for building a library, but it does offer a tantalizing
glimpse of two major talents on the rise: conductor Pietari Inkinen and soprano
Lise Lindstrom. Since this recording was made, Inkinen has been named the
conductor of the new Ring cycle at
Bayreuth. He has already conducted the Ring
for Opera Australia, where Lindstrom sang Brünnhilde, an important stepping
stone for both Wagnerian careers. But this is the first commercial recording to
feature either of them in Wagner, so expectations run high.
Inkinen proves to be a patient but insightful Wagnerian, with a good eye
for detail and an ability to structure the music well around the dramatic high
points. The performance—presumably a concert second half—begins with the act
III prelude, performed with precision and clarity by the Saarbrucken orchestra.
Tempos are moderate from the start, and while the climaxes are impressive, the
music lacks the gritty intensity of Solti or Boulez. The transition to scene 2
is smooth: After the prelude, we hear the first number of act I, “Wache, Wala!
Wala! Erwach’!,” but orchestra only, with the Wanderer omitted, then, immediately
before Erde’s entry, we cut to scene 2, with Siegfried’s “Mit zerfocht’ner
Waffe.” Unless you already know, you won’t hear the join. From here, Inkinen
leads the singers well, and the unity between the orchestra and the voices is
impressive, particularly the interplay between Lindstrom and the solo oboe,
which seems to imitate her timbre. The orchestra is on good form throughout,
and sounds well rehearsed. The strings sometimes lose focus at the climaxes,
but the brass compensates with a dark, controlled tone, delivered with plenty
of power. Inkinen’s tempos and rubato are generous without seeming indulgent.
The Siegfried Idyll section is gorgeous, free and flowing, but I wonder if it would
work as well on stage?
Lindstrom brings instant star quality to the role of Brünnhilde. Her voice
clear but rich, and with plenty of character, even in the high register. Her
vibrato is wide and slow, and ever-present, so there is never any sense of
gradually warming long notes—it’s right there from the start. Stefan Vinke is
more of a known quantity as Siegfried. He also sang the role in the Opera
Australia production, but if you’ve heard the Met, Leipzig, or Covent
Productions recently, you’ve probably come across him. He has also recorded the
role, in the Seattle Opera production. Here, he comes across as reliable but
not exceptional. In act III of Siegfried,
the Brünnhilde usually has the advantage over the Siegfried of a fresh voice,
but not so here. Even so, Vinke lacks color and sometimes wanders slightly
below pitch. These are minor grumbles though, and are only brought into focus
through comparison with Lindstrom.
SWR may be caching in here on Inkinen’s recent Bayreuth celebrity, and
perhaps too on Lindstrom’s growing fan base. Both artists prove worthy of the hype,
and Lindstrom fans in particular should seek out the recording. Bios of the
three artists are included, in German and English, but no libretto, nor any
explanation about the abridged performance.