Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard [Classical] Wagner, Josef Krips, Clemens Krauss|
Beyond the Ring: The Best of Wagner [Box Set]
Five complete operas from the Wagner repertoire--great live opera recordings at budget price in one space-saving set! Exciting live recordings taped 1944-1974! A stunning array of great artists in Wagner's most beloved ope... more »
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Five complete operas from the Wagner repertoire--great live opera recordings at budget price in one space-saving set! Exciting live recordings taped 1944-1974! A stunning array of great artists in Wagner's most beloved operatic works!
Very fine Budget performances!
F. Tibets | Boston | 04/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The operas on this box all are reissues from Opera d' Oro albeit at even more of a bargain price. I paid $17 for this box. Here's what we have:
Flying Dutchman-Krauss/Bavarian State Opera 1944
Tannhauser-Sawallisch/Rome RAI 1972
Tristan-C Kleiber/Bayreuth 1974
These are all estimable performances by known Wagner conductors. Sound is generally good though Krauss' is the weakest-understandable. Kleiber's Tristan is maybe the best performance here though I was really taken with Rienzi, by far the weakest work here. Krips just presents a sparkling performance with Svanholm, Ludwig and Berry giving it their all. A delight! The Krauss is, of course, a significant document, made in the dark days of WW2 when the tide had turned for Nazi Germany.
This is a very good set for someone coming new to Wagner. It's cheap and features first rate singers and conductors. The orchestral playing is wonderful though Sawallisch's RAI Rome ensemble is definitely not the strongest of the bunch. Enjoy!
Five Wagner operas, all of good quality and some much more t
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 04/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an ultra-bargain-priced box of fourteen disks containing five of Wagner's seven major non-Ring operas. (And, yes, all you ultra-Wagnerites, they ARE operas. Live with it!) The missing operas are, of course, "Die Meistersinger" and "Parsifal," works massive enough to distort even a fourteen disk set.
Each of these performances is already available as individual sets from Opera d'Oro at bargain price. Most have been reviewed in Amazon with generally favorable results. A couple have earned rave reviews.
The five operas are recorded from live performances or the next thing to it, direct radio broadcasts. They cover four consecutive decades of Wagnerian performing practice, the earliest from the war-beset Bavaria of 1944, the latest from the fully-booked Bayreuth of 1974. One performance is a famous and valuable historical document. Another boasts a star-studded array of singers that could not be assembled today, or even remotely suggested. A third one is almost as impressive. In fact, with few exceptions, the principal singers included here range from very good to downright amazing. The conductors, orchestras (even that perpetually under-valued RAI band) and choruses are pretty good, too.
The accompanying documentation is, to say the very least, minimal. Plots are summarized in single paragraphs. There are photographs of Wagner showing his progress from handsome boy of great potential to the Great Egotist of Bayreuth.
These are live (or nearly so) performances in "historic" sound, so for rigid, purist audiophiles I can hardly offer them the highest praise. These are under-documented, what-you-hear-is-what-you-get sets, so they are hardly ideal for untutored beginners trying to discover what all this Wagnerian foofraw is all about. But to someone falling between those two camps, to someone with a taste for and a little familiarity with Wagner, this is a fabulous opportunity to acquire some terrific back-ups to their existing collections.
In the order in which Wagner composed them, here are the five operas:
RIENZI - Live performance from Vienna, June 14, 1960. (Two disks.)
Selected Cast Members:
Rienzi - Set Svanholm
Adriano - Christa Ludwig
Orsini - Walter Berry
Colonna - Paul Schoeffler
Messenger - Teresa Stich-Randall
Conductor: Josef Krips with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
This is the abridged version, the only one available for performance until long after 1960. Purely as a matter of personal taste, I prefer this version to the much more massive--and rather more Wagnerian--"complete" versions that have been recorded more recently.
Listeners might take note that while the Viennese audience is staid-to-the-point-of-stupor throughout most of the opera, they go positively hog-wild over Set Svanholm's barn burner performance of the tenor's big aria at the end.
DIE FLIEGENDE HOLLAENDER - Almost certainly a broadcast performance from March 1944. (Two disks.)
Selected Cast Members:
The Dutchman - Hans Hotter
Senta - Viorica Ursuleac
Erik - Karl Ostertag
Daland - Georg Hann
Steersman - Franz Klarwein
Conductor: Clemens Krauss with the Bavarian State Opera and Chorus
This is a very famous performance. However, I don't think it is representative of what this cast would have done on stage. Hotter and Ursuleac, in particular, start out with oddly small-scale vocalizings. I strongly suspect that some broadcast producer had told them what they were now in a much more intimate medium than a cavernous opera house and to ease back so that the microphones could do the work. Not long after she starts, Ursuleac's performance slowly gets more intense even as it becomes bigger and bigger. Hotter, on the other hand, wonderful though his Dutchman is, always seems a little restrained.
As seems almost to be the iron rule in these things, the kindest words that one can say about Ostertag as Erik is that he was not quite awful enough to be particularly memorable. On the other hand, Klarwein's Steersman was terrific. He was everything that an up-and-coming young Heldentenor ought to be. I've never come across him anywhere else. I can only wonder what happened to him in the subsequent horrendous thirteen months.
TANNHAEUSER - Broadcast performance from Perugia, October 1, 1972. (Three disks.)
Selected Cast Members:
Tannhaeuser - René Kollo
Elisabeth - Gundula Janowitz
Wolfram - Wolfgang Brendel
Conductor: Wolfgang Sawallisch with the RAI Symphony Orchestra (Rome) and the Prague Philharmonic Chorus. (Three disks.)
This will never be my favorite "Tannhaeuser," but it is a good, solid performance nonetheless.
LOHENGRIN - Live performance from Bayreuth, August 14, 1954. (Four disks.)
Selected Cast Members:
Lohengrin - Wolfgang Windgassen
Elsa - Birgit Nilsson
Herald - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Ortrud - Astrid Varnay
King Henry - Theo Adam
Telramund - Herman Uhde
A Brabantian Elder - Gerhard Stolze
Conductor: Eugen Jochum with the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and Chorus
Holy cow, look at that: Nilssen, Windgassen--well, every one of them! I don't even especially like "Lohengrin," but what a cast! Holy cow!!
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - Live performance from Bayreuth, July 27, 1974 (Three disks.)
Selected Cast Members:
Tristan - Helge Brilioth
Isolde - Catarina Ligendza
Brangaene - Yvonne Minto
King Marke - Kurt Moll
Kurwenal - Donald McIntyre
Conductor: Carlos Kleiber with the Bayreuth Orchestra and Chorus
This is a light and youthful "Tristan und Isolde." It does not fit my own particular taste but it is highly valued by many.
Five operas, five stars--especially at the price.
Another tremendous Bravissimo (Opera d'Oro) bargain set
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 08/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The two excellent, previous reviews have already provided enough information and evaluation to help a prospective buyer decide whether to invest in this bargain box set - and let's face it, at this price, especially if you get it on Amazon Marketplace, it's not much of a risk. Larry Cantrell's review includes cast listings which reveal just how starry were the casts assembled for these live performances; they read like a roll call of great, post-war Wagnerian singers and that alone will be sufficient to attract the aficionado. Of course, the buyer must be aware that the sound is far from demonstration standard, especially in the oldest (1944), classic "Dutchman" but they are all perfectly listenable with a little good will - which cannot always be said of Opera d'Oro's issues. Furthermore, it's important to be aware that documentation is minimal: some lovely historic photographs of Richard Wagner progressing from young dandy to old dandy, swathed in quilts and fur and silk, plus a famous photo of Hans Hotter as the Dutchman; laughably truncated "sixty second overview" plot synopses of the five operas; a good introductory essay from the indefatigable Bill Parker; finally, cast lists and track listings. So this is not a set for the Wagner tyro; this is more a supplement for someone already familiar with these works, with access to a librettos from other sets.
Nor is any of these performances necessarily the best available if one were looking to purchase these operas individually. The exception is "Rienzi", rarely performed these days - and never at Bayreuth, following Wagner's interdiction - but probably best heard in a cut version like this and the cast is impressive, even if a more modern recording such as the 1976 BBC live set, conducted by Edward Downes and currently on the Ponto label, is a viable alternative (see my review). The "Fliegende Holländer" is of important historical interest and very well sung if a little low key, but a first time buyer is spoilt for choice as this opera had been fortunate in recordings. Neither the "Tannhäuser" nor the "Lohengrin" can be a first choice recording given the competition. The latter, in particular, despite sporting a phenomenal assembly of cast names, is less than the sum of its parts and nowhere near as affecting as four or five more more celebrated live Bayreuth recordings I could name, starting with the 1959 Konya/von Matacic set or the 1962 one conducted by Sawallisch. The "Tristan" gives us a welcome opportunity to hear the masterly Carlos Kleiber conduct it, but the singers are mostly bested elsewhere, especially in the famous 1966 live Bayreuth recording with Nilsson and Windgassen, conducted by Boehm. The exception is Kurt Moll's superbly sung, profoundly moving King Mark; a performance to treasure. Yvonne Minton contributes a decent Brangäne, Donald McIntyre a sturdy Kurwenal - but Catarina Ligendza is often shrill as Isolde and Helge Brilioth hopelessly overparted as Tristan: he simply yells his way through the last act and cracks painfully on the high A-flat in his ravings.
Having said all that, and not having been especially complimentary about these performances individually, I can still say that at this price there is still a case for acquiring this set as each performance has many lovely and interesting things to offer, such as Janowitz's radiant Elisabeth in the "Tannhäuser" or Svanholm's stirring rendition of "Allmächt'ger Vater" in "Rienzi". Thanks to Opera d'Oro for continuing to collate such tempting compilations."