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Wagner’s Die Walküre continues Naxos’s Ring cycle under Jaap van Zweden and is even better than the preceding Das Rheingold, in which I found the conducting slightly failed to impose a distinct personality upon the performance. However, here it is spacious and considered, building to an ample intensity without going slack or becoming ponderous. The Hong Kong Philharmonic really excels itself too, with some punchily accurate brass playing, plus the recording seems to favour the voices more than before (these are live concert recordings). Siegmund and Sieglinde’s attraction here is a slow boil and all the more erotic for it, and Stuart Skelton and Heidi Melton provide sheer vocal luxury. His tenor is heroic yet tender, and her soprano has warmth and a thrilling top. Michelle de Young’s Fricka is more incisive and characterful than before, Matthias Goerne goes from strength to strength as Wotan, with his luxurious bass-baritone particularly strong as it ascends and providing an almost introverted reading of the text at times, not that he lacks any decibels when required. Petra Lang’s Brünnhilde here is preferable to her other recently recorded assumption under Janowski – the voice sounds more secure and offers more punch, though there is still an element of solid mezzo tones with a soprano welded on top. Against Melton’s radiance she sounds worthy rather than thrilling. Good casting all round makes this well worth purchasing.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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