The first of two landmark DG recordings remastered and re-released today, Karajan’s 1966 Die Walküre by Richard Wagner has been newly remastered at Emil Berliner Studios in 24 bit/96kHz. It is presented on Blu-ray Audio in 2.0 LPCM plus 2 CDs produced from the new remastering.
The recording of Die Walküre took place in Berlin in September and October 1966, six months before the unveiling of the stage production at the first Easter Festival in Salzburg on 19 March 1967. Karajan’s Wagner conducting of the orchestra was concerned more than ever with transparency and beauty of textural and contrapuntal detailing, a new kind of relationship between voice and orchestra, and long-term dramatic structure. Karajan had assembled a superb cast of singers: voices in one or two instances that stood in marked contrast to the “old Wagner cannons” (Karajan’s phrase) most people were used to. He had a reputation for wanting singers to sing like instrumentalists and instrumentalists to play like singers. This is true up to a point. But he also had a preoccupation with vivid declamation of the text. Jon Vickers has recalled how Karajan had no use for singers who simply made beautiful sounds.