Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Kathleen Battle, Reiner Goldberg, Helga Dernesch|
Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen
Listen to Samples
One of the Best Recordings of Wagner
gellio | 10/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After having listened to Solti, Karajan's, Bohm, and Levine's version of the ring, this is the one that I must pick. First of all, the recording itself is purely beautiful and well-recorded digital sound. It gives it a warmpth that analogue couldn't do. Given, it is a bit slower than the other ones, but that makes it quite majestic and adds a feel to it. Bohm's i my second favorite, but that one is MUCH faster, with Die Walkure alone being 40 minutes shorter. James Morris if the best Wotan of the last two decades, and Hildegard Behrens is perfect. The Rheinmaidens are superb, Alberich is well performed, and Siegfried is very good, but has been sung better. Overall it is an excellent recording."
An Ode to Beauty!
gellio | San Francisco, CA | 10/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I decided to add another Ring to my collection (I have Solti's and Bohm's recordings) and the choice was between a more historical recording or Levine's (I once had Karajan's desperate mess and sold it). I am not a digital whore, but I ultimately decided on Levine's because of what I've read about the superb orchestral playing! Now, on to my thoughts...
There's been a lot of talk about Levine's "plodding tempos" on here and reviews I've read through other sources. This morning, I did some research and compiled a timing list for some of the more popular Ring's. Levine's Ring is 90 minutes SHORTER than Goodall's. It is only 24 minutes longer than Karajan's, 34 minutes longer than Solti's, and 103 minutes longer than Bohm's. We're talking 24, 34, and 103 minutes over the course of 14 to 15 hours. Yes, the slower tempos are noticeable compared to Bohm, but they are certainly not noticeable compared to Karajan and Solti. 24 and 34 minutes over 14 to 15 hours amounts to seconds when it comes to each individual track. Not noticeable - a non-issue!
What is said about the orchestral playing is superb. I am absolutely floored by the stunning beauty with which the Met orchestra plays. It's breathtaking, from the first note of Rheingold until the last note of Gotterdammerung! The sound is clear, beautiful, and lush. Gorgeous!
The cast does have some issues. Solti provides the only near perfect cast IMO (save Hotter in Walkure). Bohm features the same two major players (Windgassen and Nilsson) as Solti. Of course Goldberg and Behrens don't measure up to these two giants, but they are both more than sufficent for their roles. Vocally, Goldberg is good, but something is missing. Behrens seems to struggle at moments, leaving me vocally disappointed during the finales of Siegfried and Gotterdammerung! However, it's nice to have another Brunnhilde and Siegfried on disc.
James Morris is a triumph as Wotan! The best I have ever heard, bar none! I literally listened to his final passage in Walkure about 15 times in a row. It will light your heart on fire. Norman is wonderful as Sieglinde! It's true her voice is perhaps a bit too large for the role, but what a treat it is to hear Sieglinde sung so powerfully and beautifully. It's a nice change, and the ACT I of Walkure is breathtaking. Studer is great as Gutrune and I love Zednik's Mime. Battle as the Woodbird and Moll as Fafner represent two other roles that are wonderfully sung.
All in all, the Walkure is the best I have heard, and the Gotterdammerung falls short of Solti's, however, it's definitely worth owning! Solti has the definite edge in Siegfried and Rheingold.
In short, would I recommend Levine's Ring to someone who is approaching the work for a first time? NO! I would certainly recommend Solti's, for many reasons. However, if someone already had Solti's and was looking for another (recent) Ring, I would absolutely recommend Levine's over both Bohm's and Karajan's, which is saying a lot, because while I loath Karajan's effort, I love and applaud Bohm's!
On a side note, Deutsch Grammophon has repackaged this Ring at mid-price (also found on Amazon), with no librettos. Although there are several used recordings for sale here, with librettos, you'd be better off buying the newly repackaged set and use the money you save to purchase Rudolph Sabors commentaries on the Ring as a whole and each of the four operas individually. Not only does he include the original text, with English translation side-by-side, he also includes a running commentary with loads of interesting information, including pointing out the motifs. These 5 volumes can be purchased used (on Amazon.com) very cheaply."
Good, but definitely not the first choice
Ko-Hsiu Hou | Schenectady, NY USA | 05/06/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Levine's reading is admirable, with which I feel very satisfied. But what disappoints me is that the singers did not match up with their maestro. Take James Morris, for example. Act II of Walkure is so important that I can't believe the dramatic elements in it are missing through his rendering. Overall, this is a good set, but if you want to keep just one or two Rings, this should not be one."