1953 was the third year of 'New Bayreuth', with the pattern each year of two cycles of the Ring, several performances of Parsifal, and two other dramas, one in a new production, being established. In 1953 the major crises was the absence of Hans Knappertsbusch, who in the first two years had already come to be the backbone of the musical side. So, rather late in the day, Wieland Wagner summoned to Bayreuth two conductors of the generation after Kna: Clemens Krauss to conduct Parsifal and the second cycle of the Ring, and Joseph Keilberth to conduct the first Ring cycle and the new production of Lohengrin.
This was the first year in which Hans Hotter sang all three Wotans, and he is in stupendous form the whole way through. For the first time at Bayreuth Martha Mödl sings Brünnhilde, and she too is at her finest, that unmistakeable voice full and warm. And this was also the first year that Wolfgang Windgassen sang Siegfried, a role he made his own for at least the next fifteen years. In 1953 he sings with a volume and energy which has him in the line of his predecessors rather than his successors.
This cycle (and the later one under Clemens Krauss) established the major figures for the next five years, Hotter always as Wotan, Varnay and Mödl more or less alternating as Brünnhilde, and Windgassen, with one exception, Siegfried, similarly Gustav Neidlinger as Alberich. No more satisfactory Ring cast has been assembled since, indeed none that can touch it, and this release is a fitting tribute to its lasting greatness.