Review: Die Nibelungen (1966/67)

Composer: Rolf Wilhelm

Label: Cobra Records

Catalogue Nr.: CR006A/B

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Tracklisting:

    Disk One - Siegfried

    01. CCC-Fanfare (0:13)

    02. Einleitung und Titelvorspann (2:43)

    03. Volkers Erzaehlung von Siegfried/Mime und Siegfried in der Schmiede/Fafner erwacht (4:49)

    04. Vor der Drachenhoehle/Siegfrieds Ritt (0:57)

    05. Kampf mit Alberich/Siegfried besiegt den Drachen Fafner (4:34)

    06. Siegfried in der Hoehle/Kampf mit Alberich und den Alben (3:58)

    07. Siegfried findet den Nibelungenhort/Island (4:10)

    08. Siegfried ueberwindet die Feuerwand, erweckt Brunhild/Ritt ueber Island (6:40)

    09. Abschied auf Isenstein (1:55)

    10. Siegfrieds Einzug in Worms (1:25)

    11. Chor zu Worms/Nachricht vom Einfall der Sachsen/Kampf mit Luedegast/ Heimkehr des Siegers (3:41)

    12. Tanz zu Worms/Begegnung mit Kriemhild (2:05)

    13. Brunhild lebt verlassen auf Island/Der Walkuerenritt (3:22)

    14. Zweikampf mit Brunhild (5:09)

    15. Die Rheinfahrt mit Brunhild/Einzug In Worms (2:10)

    16. Chorgesang bei der Trauung (3:06)

    17. Tanz und Hoernerklang (1:42)

    18. Nachtlicher Hof mit Hagen und Alberich/Brunhilds Zaubergürtel/Morgenszene mit Siegfried und Kriemhild (2:04)

    19. Sturmnacht/Siegfried besiegt Brunhild in Gunthers Gestalt (3:55)

    20. Liturgie im Dom/Der Guertel in Kriemhilds Besitz (1:17)

    21. Jagdhörner/Szenen im Wald/Siegfrieds Tod (3:34)

    22. Kriemhild betet, Siegfried auf der Bahre/Kriemhilds Fluch und Schlussmusik(3:37)

    23. Siegfrieds Thema (Single-Fassung von 1966) (1:53)

 

    Disc Two - Kriemhilds Rache

 

    01. Einleitung und Titelvorspann (2:43)

    02. Reiterheer der Hunnen/Koenig Etzel trifft Kriemhild (1:28)

    03. Am Hofe Koenig Etzels/Abritt der Hunnen/Nibelungenzug, von Spaehern beobachtet (3:00)

    04. Die Nibelungen erreichen die Donau/Die Donauweiber prophezeien Hagen den Untergang/Hagen und der Faehrmann (3:46)

    05. Liturgie in der Ruine (1:06)

    06. Hagen und der Moench/Die Nibelungen treffen Dietrich von Bern (2:46)

    07. Einzug der Nibelungen in den Hof Etzels/Tanz der Hunnen/Die Nibelungen in Waffen zum Fest (3:40)

    08. Tanz der Hunnen/Aufbruch der Hunnenkrieger/Bloedins naechtliche Attacke (2:06)

    09. Bloedin dringt in die Halle ein, will Hagen töten/Wilder Hunnentanz/Zweikampf Werbel mit Dankwart (2:11)

    10. Schwertertanz in der Festhalle/Der Kampf beginnt (2:55)

    11. Tod Etzels Sohn/Etzel fordert Hagen zum Zweikampf (2:22)

    12. Brand der Halle (2:10)

    13. Kampf auf der Treppe/Ruediger greift in den Kampf ein/Giselhers Tod (2:42)

    14. Kampfpause/Gernots Tod/Hagen und Gunther stellen sich erneut/Dietrich von Bern greift ein (1:36)

    15. Dietrich von Bern beendet den Kampf/Hagen und Gunther gefesselt vor Kriemhild/Gunther bricht zusammen/Kriemhild erschlägt Hagen und stürzt sich ins Schwert/Schlussmusik (3:32)

 

 

   

 

 

Die Nibelungen was the 1966 attempt of post-war German filmmaking to jump the bandwagon of big cinemascope Hollywood epics. The famous epic tale is represented as two films (Siegfried 1966 and Kriemhilds Rache 1967) while the  production was meant to be entertaining instead of being a correct incarnation of the epic tale but nevertheless, the filmmakers threatened the classic material fairly well. The movie shines with surprisingly good dialogue (which can surpass most of the dialogue heard in recent 'blockbusters') and beautiful cinematography. The cast of the film is largely forgotten now, except for Mario Girotti a.k.a. Terence Hill, who later gained cult status as the mischievous co-star in almost all Bud Spencer movies.

The score:

The most sparkling aspect of the production is without doubt Rolf Wilhelm's excellent wagnerian score, an effort which does not have to hide behind it's Hollywood companions and represents Wilhelm's best score to date. In fact, Miklos Rosza or Alfred Newman could not have done it better. However, the budget for the production was rather low and the music for Siegfried was recorded in stereo. Most of the budget had been spent on Siegfried and thus the budget for Kriemhilds Rache was limited, so Wilhelm had to drop the entire string section of the orchestra to save money.

Part one, Siegfried:

The first CD of this double disc box contains the entire score for Siegfried with most tracks being in good stereo sound. The score is opened with the imposing "CCC-Fanfare" composed by another great German film composer Martin Boettcher (known for his Winnetou scores) before getting us into the epic tale with "Einleitung und Titelvorspann". This track is introducing the strong and highly memorable main theme of the score with it's big fanfares. However, the most-used melody on this CD is not the main theme but Siegfried's theme. After the thrilling opening of the score we get some beautiful romantic string tones in the beginning of "Volkers Erzaehlung von Siegfried/Mime und Siegfried in der Schmiede/Fafner erwacht". This music is reminiscent of Wilhelm's music for the Loriot movies and fans of the composer's scores will find more of these trademarks during the entire score, most prominently in the string writing. The second half of the track is introducing Siegfried's theme and some nervous dissonant music for the dragon Fafner. This is continued in the beginning of "Vor der Drachenhoehle/Siegfrieds Ritt" followed by a beautiful heroic variation of  Siegfried's theme. "Kampf mit Alberich/Siegfried besiegt den Drachen Fafner" opens with a dissonant and percussive passage followed by mysterious suspense music and percussive action music while the end of the track brings back the beautiful string version of Siegfried's theme. "Siegfried in der Höhle/Kampf mit Alberich und den Alben" continues with more sneaky suspense music. Broad and somewhat mysterious romantic tones return in "Siegfried findet den Nibelungenhort/Island" going into big fanfares introducing the Island theme during the second half of the cue. The lengthy ""Siegfried überwindet die Feuerwand, erweckt Brunhild/Ritt über Island" opens with more dissonant music and a dramatic variation on Siegfried's theme before the music becomes quiet and emotional in the middle of the track with more broad and epic strings and dramatic fanfares and the end. A knockout cue is "Siegfrieds Einzug in Worms", a variation on Siegfried's theme with big fanfares, a counterpoint of the main theme and a somewhat European/German feeling to it if you compare it to Hollywood scores of the same calibre. This composition is repeated a few times in other tracks of the score and shows why Rolf Wilhelm can be seen as the German equivalent to John Williams. A religious choir is featured in the beginning of "Chor zu Worms/Nachricht vom Einfall der Sachsen/Kampf mit Lüdegast/Heimkehr des Siegers" followed by suspense music and a variation of the Nibelungen main theme in the middle, creating another highlight of the score. "Tanz in Worms/Begegnung mit Kriemhild" starts with pleasant medieval folk music for woodwinds and goes into a romantic love theme for strings which will also appear in track 18. The previously described tracks are a good summary for the overall sound of the score and the various aspects are varied in the following tracks.

Part Two, Kriemhilds Rache

Due to the lack of an appropriate music budget, the sound quality of Kriemhilds Rache is not as good as in Siegfried. Most of the tracks come from the composer's own second generation tape and are in mono only with some distortion at higher volumes. The lack of a string section makes it a much more martial score based on percussion and brass. The suspense music is dominated by woodwinds. The Nibelungen theme gets a few nice variations throughout the Kriemhild score replacing the theme of the character Siegfried who died in part one. Only 38 minutes of Kriemhild survived the years with several cues from part one tracked in such as "Einleitung und Titelvorspann" and "Schlussmusik". Wilhelm really shows his talent by providing Kriemhilds Rache with an equally impressive sound as Siegfried without relying on extensive string passages. Some tracks even have an Arabic influence especially during the music for the Huns which got their own grim and somewhat bouncy theme.

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 86%

Score as heard on CD: 84%

TOTAL: 85%

 

The presentation:

Credit must go to Cobra Record's producer Knut Raeppold who took the risk of putting out this masterpiece of German film score history on CD. The 21-page booklet contains liner notes by the composer, photos and detailed information about the production. It surprises that no more score releases of that kind see the light of the day in Germany. There would be no reuse fees to pay and the rights are considerable easy to obtain. Obviously, there is not enough interest in having more of Rolf Wilhelm's magnificent scores on CD which even caused the Label going bankrupt before producing more CD's which were planned, such as Ruf der Wildgänse (1961) and Die Heiden von Kummerow (1967), but sadly it never happened.

Presentation by the Label: 91%

 

Summary:

This film music masterpiece composed by one of Germany's greatest film composers will please all fans of epic music as well as fans of golden age scores. The score is rich of melodies, exciting music for fight scenes and many romantic moments rounded out with detailed orchestrations and a European feeling to it. If you can manage it to get a copy of this release you surely won't be disappointed.

Review by Andreas Creutzburg