Karl Böhm never made a commercial recording of Lohengrin, a gap in his discography now filled by this 1965 broadcast from the Vienna Staatsoper. Böhm was famous for speed in Wagner. This is real edge-of-your-seat stuff, though you're also conscious in of undue pressure in the first and third acts, and his decision to make cuts in some of the choruses may well alarm purists. The vocal honours go to Walter Berry and Christa Ludwig, formidable, genuinely sinister – and in Ludwig's case literally show-stopping – as Telramund and Ortrud. Jess Thomas is the glamorous-sounding hero: his Elsa, Claire Watson, convinces more in moments of worldly panic than in her mystic-erotic trances. The mono sound is clean and clear. Not as good as the versions by Joseph Keilberth and Rudolf Kempe (who also has Ludwig and Thomas in his cast), but still very special.
Tim Ashley is a Guardian classical and opera critic, though he's also keen on literature and philosophy so you might sometimes find him cross-referencing all three. His work has also appeared in Literary Review and Opera magazine and he is author of a biography of Richard Strauss