If you are not all Wagnered out by the blitzkrieg of bicentennial CDs, DVDs and live performances, you might find room on your shelf for one more addition featuring British baritone James Rutherford. He has already sung Sachs (at Bayreuth no less), the Dutchman, Wolfram, Kurwenal and Wotan in Die Walküre, next up is Amfortas. This album is by way of his portfolio.

He is joined here by the excellent Bergen Philharmonic under their American principal conductor Andrew Litton who gives the band a good workout in the Overture to The Flying Dutchman and the Prelude to Act III of Die Meistersinger. Indeed, Litton proves himself to be something of an inspired Wagnerian here, constantly generating electricity.

Rutherford has a generous vibrato which hopefully won’t develop into an uncontrolled mannerism, but he is alert to the textual nuances and there is dramatic depth aplenty. He clearly shows in the closing track, Wotan’s Abscheid, that he can handle the heavy-duty roles.

Recorded last year at the Grieg Hall,in Bergen, the production quality is outstanding as you would expect from Swedish label BIS. Highlights include a lovely O du mein holder Abendstern and two lashings of Hans Sachs where his attention to text really stand out.

Hopefully this isn’t the after dinner mint served up by John Cleese after Mr Creosote’s Wagnerian blow-out. There is much to be enjoyed here.


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