GHCD 2221/22 – DAS RHEINGOLD – Wagner – Metropolitan Opera – 1937 – Schor – Branzell – Maison – Habich – Thorborg

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Arthur Bodanzky РConductor, Friederich Schorr РWotan, Julius Huehn РDonner, Rene Maison РLoge, Eduard Habich РAlberich, Karl Laufk̦tter РMime, Norman Cordon РFasolt, Emanuel List РFafner, Karin Branzell РFricka, Dorothee Manski РFreia, Kerstin Thorborg РErda, Stella Andreva РWoglinde, Irra Petina РWellgunde, Doris Doe РFlosshilde

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Classics Today Thursday September 26 02

Reference Recording – Solti (Decca); Karajan (DG)

For Guild’s reissue of Wagner’s Das Rheingold as performed by the Metropolitan Opera forces on tour in Boston on April 3, 1937, restoration engineer Richard Caniell uncovers a noisier yet brighter, more vibrant lacquer transfer than the quieter, more muffled one he used for Naxos’ 1999 release. I defer to my colleague Robert Levine’s astute comments on the performance, which he reviewed in its Naxos guise (type Q67 in Search Reviews). Here, however, Caniell revises history. He edits out all of Doris Doe’s Erda and replaces her passages with Kerstin Thorborg’s commercial studio Victor recording of similar vintage. There’s no question that Thorborg’s powerful mezzo and dramatic authority convey Erda’s warnings more urgently than Doe’s relatively bland characterization. Non-interventionists may cry bloody murder, but the substitution works well, aesthetically and sonically. Naxos’ transfer preserves the original broadcast commentary, which helps put the performance in its original context, but so do Guild’s extensive and informative notes. I’d go for the Guild, unless you’re an announcement freak, a Doris Doe completist, or (perish the thought!) both.
Jed Distler