Jukeboxtheater | Georgia | 10/06/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This cycle is for only the most ardent Ring completists. Despite the polite dismissals I've read elsewhere concerning the sound quality, I still wasn't prepared for this audio travesty. Poor mono is the kindest epitaph I can bestow. The performance is good as expected, but certainly no better than contemporaneous Bayreuth performances by Krauss and Keilberth. The Krauss (1953) in particular is considered by many to be the finest Ring cycle on disc and the sound quality (Archipel label) is very good mono, far better than what's on this set. The Keilberth (1955) is another great perfomance captured in stunning (for its time) early stereo that puts into a completely different sonic league, but it's rather pricey.
My advice is to skip this Kempe release and go for either the Krauss if price is an issue, or the Keilberth if you want the absolute best sound from this era."
A welcome, worthy Ring
D. H Patterson | Houston, TX United States | 08/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While this 1957 live recording would not be my choice for anyone's first or only Ring recording, it is a vivid document of a great Wagnerian conductor and a fine cast. The sound is decent, but it's neither stereo nor especially good mono. These recordings were taken from live performances, and there are occasional vocal and orchestral mishaps that would have been corrected in a studio or with multiple performances to draw from. No matter, the performances are gripping throughout. It is nice to hear Hotter (as Wotan) in firmer voice than in his later recordings with Solti. The same goes for Windgassen's Siegfried. Nilsson is vocally superb (as always) and very fresh and exciting - everything seems spontaneous and glorious - particularly her Gotterdammerung Brunnhilde. I like Ramon Vinay's baritonal Siegmund, though he runs into a couple of rough moments. The rest of the cast is mostly satisfactory, with some well-known British stalwarts of the era, including a radiant Joan Sutherland as Woglinde. As the major singers all made other recordings, the real focus of this Ring must be the conductor, and Kempe is altogether splendid. It's a propulsive but "singing" performance, full of detail but wonderfully whole. I think you're in for a treat. The booklet includes pictures, brief articles and track listings, but no libretto."
A Ring for the ages
Armando A. Bona | 10/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen
This is a Ring for the ages. The cast of stellar Wagnerians includes Birgit Nilsson as a youthful Brunnhilde (2 years before her Metropolitan debut), the towering Wotan of Hans Hotter in his prime, Hermann Uhde's Gunther, Ramon Vinay's Siegmund, and a cast of other Wagnerian notables of
that era. A first rate Rudolf Kempe leads the luminous Royal Opera House orchestra. The sound is very good monaural. The set is nicely packaged - each of the 13 CDs comes in a cardboard sleeve with a different photo of Kempe on each. I was thrilled by these legendary performances of Wagner's great work.