Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Martha Modl, Ludwig Suthaus, Wolfgang Windgassen|
Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen (Wilhelm Furtwangler, Italian Radio 1953, EMI)
Furtwängler's 1953 Ring cycle, recorded "live" in the RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) studios, one act at a time, for broadcast purposes, is remastered here from the original tapes, in contrast to vinyl pressings used fo... more »
Amazon.com essential recording
Furtwängler's 1953 Ring cycle, recorded "live" in the RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana) studios, one act at a time, for broadcast purposes, is remastered here from the original tapes, in contrast to vinyl pressings used for the original 1972 EMI LP release. The noted Wagnerian scholar Deryck Cooke best characterized the great conductor's view of this magnum opus as a "stark, heavy, brooding work, a profound tragedy set in a primitive world of ancient Teutonic gods and heroes, to whom every action and event is of the utmost existential importance." Not even the boxy sonics or less-than-world-class RAI wind and brass sections diminish the impact of Furtwängler's gripping leadership. Even when tempos appear unusually slow, the conductor's rhythmic underpinning and sixth sense for sustaining long lines keep the dramatic intensity afloat. While Furtwängler's livelier 1950 La Scala Ring boasts better orchestral playing, his RAI Ring is more consistently cast. Standouts include Windgassen's expansive Siegmund, Mödl's attentive Brünnhilde, Patzak's truly sung (as opposed to cackled) Mime, Suthaus's virile Siegfried, Jurinac's ruby-tinged Gutrune, and Greindl's best-vocalized Hagen extant. A banded synopsis is included in lieu of texts. --Jed Distler
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Furtwangler is the True Wagnerite.
M. Abidari | US | 06/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you already geek on the Ring this set is a must have. It is Furtwangler's final and best testament to Wagner's tetrology, probably the interpretive forerunner to his studio recorded cycle which he did not live to complete. In its broad tempos and undulating rubato it represents his vision more fully than any other recorded account. In comparison with his Scala Ring, it is better cast--Flagstad not withstanding--and sung. The RAI orchestra--often maligned by critics--responds to the great maestro in putting out the richest tone colours. You actually hear phrases and sounds that other recordings do not bring out of the score. Furtwangler also brings out unrivalled interpretations from his superb post-war cast. Martha Modl's Brunnhilde has fire, pathos and the best diction. You actually hear her every word. Ludwig Suthaus is precisely the kind of bel canto Heldentenor Wagner had in mind for the role opf Siegfried. He has a unique honeyed timbre to his voice that I have heard in no other. You also have the luxury of Windgassen's Loge, a weepy self-pitying jewel of an interpretation. He also sings a vulnerable and lonely Siegmund--a role much more suited to him than all the Siegfrieds he sang. Ferdinand Franz' Wotan is dark and psychologically complex. Julius Patzak's Mime is a unique masterpiece which makes Siegfried a theatrical delight. There are other brilliant minor roles: Greindl's Fafner and Hagen, Jurinac's Gudrune, Streich's woodbird, Margarete Klose's phenomenal Erda ... The cast actually SING the Ring rather than declamating it, as for instance in the Solti Ring. The voices are always fresh, as they did only one act per night, with as much as two to three nights lapse in between. The great shaper and molder of it all of course is Furtwangler. He brings out every bit of beauty in the fifteen hours of music. The sound is definitely superior to the Scala Ring, and in contrast to the latter the audience noise is minimal to nil, as the invited guests were actually vetted for coughers! You will get addicted to this Ring."
Performance over Sound
Howard G Brown | Port St. Lucie, FL USA | 12/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I turn to this set again and again for the performances of Furtwangler and his singers, but the orchestra is, frankly, not as bad as legend would have it. Last night I listened to Act 3 of Siegfried, and I was struck by the quality of the string playing in particular. I consider this my "chamber" version of the Ring, as intimate as Schubert Lieder. Which, of course, the Ring was never meant to be. A work of the theatre, who could have imagined it contained on small, shiny discs to be reproduced in homes from Boston to Beijing?The sound is less vivid than in the Knappertsbusch 1956 Bayreuth Ring on Music&Arts, which is blessed with excellent mono sound that, like this Furtwangler set, favors the singers over the orchestra -- only more so! The fabled Bayreuth sound places the orchestra at a distance from the singers, sometimes creating a Kareoke effect: Astrid Varnay and Wolfgang Windgassen seem to be accompanied by a recorded orchestra -- especially after their overwhelming duet leads into an underwhelming Siegfried's Rhine Journey. But this is a minor defect, really, in a set that puts the "Hollywood' productions of Solti and von Karajan to shame.So to with this Furtwangler Ring. The singers, and they are fine in their roles, emerge from an orchestral texture that is at least competent in the first two music dramas, and nearly inspired in the final two. The quality of sound is not quite up to the '56 Bayreuth, but the balance between singers and orchestra is better.Final note. I've been listening to so many 'historical' and mono recordings lately that stereo recordings sound like Barnum & Bailey fakes -- something unnatural concocted to sell records. One advantage to growing old is that the ears seem to get back to essentials, and shrug off the spectacular as so much audio baggage."
An informed opinion
Howard G Brown | 06/01/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd like to quote some lines by the pianist Sviatoslav Richter, one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, on these recordings: "..This constitutes one of the most striking impressions of my entire life as a musician and the culmination of my relationship with Wagner. I've finally heard this work in the full force of its brilliant inspiration. Here I can put my finger on the gulf that separates Wagner from all other great musicians, writers and so on. Why? Because the interpretation is on a par with the work itself. Everything is subordinate to Furtwangler, and Furtwangler is connected to Wagner by a direct link. I'm convinced that it's impossible to wish for anything better. This is true happiness!" -from "Sviatoslav Richter" by B. Monsaingeon, p. 358."