Thanks to Gergiev’s experience of touring Der Ring des Nibelungen with his Mariinsky Theatre ensemble, this recording has a lived-in, knitted-together character that suits the first opera in the cycle (Die Walküre came out earlier this year) and balances out the contributions of two German guests – René Pape’s majestic Wotan and Stephan Rügamer’s squeaky Loge, the latter a matter of taste. All other roles are taken by leading members of the St Petersburg ensemble. The Rhinemaidens are especially good, while Nikolai Putilin’s Alberich puts a premium on nobility – more human than most.
A Russian Ring will never be top of the list, but this Rheingold bodes well for the last two operas in the cycle.
(Mariinsky, 2 CDs)