The Wagnerian Podcast No 2: Rudolf Moralt's Ring Cycle

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday, 15 October 2011 | 8:27:00 am

Rudolf Moralt
Perhaps one of the greatest recorded Ring Cycles few people have heard and with an overall recording quality - with the exception of some acts (act three of Walkure being of especial note) - that, given its age, is truly astounding.

Ignoring it's "musicality" for a moment, Moralt's (nephew of Richard Strauss) Ring is important for a number of reasons:

It is the earliest uncut Ring Cycle (recorded between 1948 and 1949 and the first after WW 2). It predated - and may have guided - Furtwangler's 1953 Ring by being recorded act by act (hence the recording dates of 1948 - 49).It has fallen into legend that while attending Moralt's Walkure Furtwangler found his 1950 Siegmund in Günther Treptow.

Günther Treptow
Although this truly has a fine cast, particular attention should be given to Günther Treptow's Siegmund and Siegfried, Ferdinand Frantz's Wotan, Herbert Alsen's Hunding is a revelation (Ever thought it would be possible to "like" Hunding? Alsen nearly pulls it off), Hilde Konetzni's Sieglinde, and first (in Walkure) Helena Braun Brünnhilde taken up next in the cycle by Grob-Prandl.

Moralt is unjustifiable considered a "second rate" Wagner conductor but this (and to some degree his Parsifal) attests otherwise. But it is is easy to say these things - and "taste" is always highly subjective - I thus present for your attention selections of his Walkure.


Ferdinand Frantz
The entire cycle has long been in the public domain and cheap copies are easy to come-by (the cheapest I have found is a copy sold by emusic which sells each act (no cover, only one track per act, MP3) for 49p each!


In the following podcast act one, scene one and the opening of act two can be found (please note: due to space limitations with the Podcast host I am using at the moment this is very low bitrate (130 kps) and thus the sound quality should not be seen as reflective of an actual recording) . I have also included once again "Wotan´s Farewell" found on youtube below.



Ferdinand Frantz "Wotan´s Farewell" 

Edit: As pointed out by the every reliable George over at facebook:  the best mastering of this maybe found on the MYTO Label

Rudolf Moralt - A Short Bigraphy (source: http://www.cantabile-subito.de)

b Munich, 1902; d Vienna, 1958 (nephew of Richard Strauss)

Teachers: Studied at the Munich University and with Walter Courvoisier at the Vienna Music Academy.

Career: Debut as répétiteur at the Vienna State Opera in 1919 under Bruno Walter and Hans Knappertsbusch. Kaiserslautern, 1923-1927. Music director at the German Theatre in Brno, 1928-1931. Kaiserslautern, 1932-1933. Braunschweig, 1934-1936. Graz, 1937-1940. Debut at the Vienna State Opera in 1937. Salzburg Festival, 1952. Chief conductor at the Vienna State Opera, 1940-1958 (the year of his early death).

Comment: Rudolf Moralt was an unaffected and deeply understanding conductor who was responsible for a high standard of repertory performances at the Vienna State Opera for almost 20 years. His musical and stylistic competence as well as his profound knowledge about singingachieved many fine performances, especially of works by Mozart, Wagner, Pfitzner and Richard Strauss.

Review Of Walkure (Source)

Review by Henrik Boman

Hilde Konetzni
This is the first complete Ring recorded after the WWII, an excellent cast still under, what I would like to call, the older Wagner tradition: you can hear every single word of the text. The recording as something of a historical document, using the greatest voices of its time, and a conductor of the old school, in a town just a few years after the disastrous war. Rudolf Moralt was since 1940 contracted at the Wiener Staatsoper, during the Nazi regime, so the performance is a historical document of an era (luckily) past and gone.

For me this is a different Walküre, because of the old tradition still heard in the performance, and the remarkable conducting of Rudolf Moralt. A quite slow tempi, with an intensity in a 'Solti like way', marking the specific passages in the music, not the flow between the scenes. Moralt lacks the sensitive touch of the slower moments of the opera, the ones which his contemporary colleague Furtwängler mastered with such precision.

The strings of the Wiener Symphoniker make a good impression, a firm basis for the singers, but the woodwind and the horns make a somewhat insecure impression at occasions.

It's a concert performance and the dramatic heaviness of a live performance on stage is missing. Siegmund and Sieglinde are singing to you, as a listener, not to each other. Treptow making a significant performance, he is not the lonely 'waffen lose' hero, he is a loving, strong Siegmund, looking for his love of the life. He is the 'heroic', non-suffering, Siegmund.

Helena Braun
Konetzni in her main role, also performed under Furtwängler, is a strong and loving woman, not the depressed and suffering wife of Hunding. Herbert Alsen as Hunding is probably one of the darkest Hundings recorded, a remarkable contrast to Siegmund. Helena Braun as Brünnhilde, a darker voice than usual today, as both Varnay and Mödl. She's not THE 'Brünnhilde' but she appeared repeatedly as Brünnhilde or Kundry under Moralt and Knappertsbuch in the 1940s. Fricka of the performance, Rosette Anday, is loud and demanding wife of Wotan, reminding him of his duties as the Chief God when he wants to forget them, and only help, and love, Siegmund.



The opera was recorded one act a night, as later Furtwängler did in his Tristan und Isolde and the RAI Ring, an idea Furtwängler got from Moralt's performance. During the performance, Furtwängler sitting in the audience, discovered his future Siegmund for the La Scala Ring of 1950, Günther Treptow. Rushing out after the end of the first act, he asked his assistant why he hadn't been informed about this tenor.

The Sieglinde of this performance, Hilde Konetzni, was also engaged by Furtwängler for the La Scala Ring, together with Ferdinand Frantz. I wouldn't recommend this Walküre to anyone who's not a Wagner enthusiast. But if you are, it is an interesting and historical performance with some of the best Wagner singers of its time.


WalküreLive recording in mono: 1949
Conductor: Rudolf Moralt
Siegmund: Günther Treptow
Sieglinde: Hilde Konetzni
Brünnhilde: Helena Braun
Hunding: Herbert Alsen
Fricka: Rosette Anday
Gerhilde: Judith Hellwig
Ortlinde: Ester Rethy
Waltraute: Rosette Anday
Wiener Symphoniker