"Forget Furtwangler's 1950 La Scala Ring, forget Furtwangler's EMI 1954 Ring, forget Knappertsbusch's 1956 ring...Yes, FORGET those rings. THIS is THE Ring. Period.The star of this Ring is Clemens Krauss. His conducting simply makes sense - not slow and stodgy. The conducting is brisk and everything flows. Best of all, he is aided by the PERFECT CAST. There is NO WEAK LINK.In 1953, Windgassen was starting his career and doing his first Siegfried. Here, his voice is fresh like you NEVER heard before. And yes, Hans Hotter is in peak form - his voice is powerful and not woofy like his later recordings. And his characterization is superb. And as Brunnhilde, we have Varnay in her peak who can DEFINITELY rival Birgit Nilsson!! Varnay's voice is warmer and her acting is more intense than Nilsson - Varnay sings her heart out. What more?Gustav Neidlinger is Alberich (yes, the incredible Gustave of Solti's set 5 years earlier, just as superb). The famed Tristan Ramon Vinay as Siegmund!! Regina Resnik, in her soprano days, as Sieglinde and teh second Norn!! Josef Greindl as Hunding, Fafner and Hagen!! Greindl was just as good as Gootlob Frick!! Paul Kuen as Mime!! ira Malaniuk as Fricka and Waltraute. Rita Streich as the woodbird!!! Hermann Uhde (himself Siegfried elsewhere) as Gunther.What should you do? RUSH OUT & buy this set at once. It has been unavailable for far too long. This is the latest state of the art 24 bit remastering. Whatever that means, I have not idea. All I know is that it does MIRACLES for the recorded sound. I heard the Gala version from 1990 and that version is just not as good as this.Don't say that you weren't informed."
Still better than the Opera d'Oro
A. Maus | New York, NY | 09/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I must take exception with the assertion in the review below that the new Opera d'Oro release features "vastly improved sound, voices particularly." I own both versions, as well as the old Gala release, and have recently discovered that the new "superior" Opera d'Oro is nothing more than the same exact remastering used by Gala. It's as if Opera d'Oro just burned a new set straight off the Gala without even changing track arrangements. If you don't believe me, look into it yourself: even without comparing the audio (which I did thoroughly), you can look at the track listings here on Amazon for both the Gala and the Opera d'Oro and will find them completely identical. The Archipel's Rheingold is admittedly a botch-job, but the remasterings of the other operas are without any question FAR superior to the Gala remastering that Opera d'Oro is passing off as its own."
Best Remastering is on Opera D'Oro
G. Dowling | St. Louis, MO, USA | 04/12/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This 1953 Ring may well be the gold standard of recorded Ring cycles. But for vastly improved sound, voices particularly, go to the new edition (Feb '06) from Opera D'Oro. For some reason Borders does not list it -- but it's easy to find elsewhere. And the price is in the $45-55 range."
Is this possibly the very best "Ring"?
Ralph J. Steinberg | New York, NY United States | 07/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before I foam at the mouth with hyperbole, let me say that there is one problem with the remastering, and that occurs in "Das Rheingold." There is a severe channel imbalance, with the left channel redominating. As this is a mono recording, this problem is easily solved by switching your preamp to the "mono" mode. Otherwise, this a a good-sounding release, not as good as the Testament "Goetterdaemmerung" under Knappertsbusch, but good enough in balancing voices and orchestra and giving the authentic Bayreuth Festspielhaus sound. Now to the performance. This is probably the most moving and exciting "Ring" in my experience, due in part to the vital, sensitive, and subtle conducting of Clemens Krauss. He seems to combine the best of all worlds: the subtlty of Kempe, the gravity of Kanppertsbusch, and the drive of Solti. His tempi simply fit the music like a glove, perfect at every point. As for the cast, Hotter is at his absolute prime and most compelling as Wotan, rendering the most heartbreaking "Abschied" I have ever heard. This is the Wotan of the ages. Neidlinger likewise delivers his most powerful Alberich on disc. Kuen's Mime is ever so more vibrant and properly evil than he ever accomplished in any other recorded performance. Vinay is a superb Siegmund, reminiscent of James King in its darkness and weight. Resnik is the equal of any Sieglinde in her rapture and despair. Malaniuk is also unsurpassed as an outraged Fricka. Uhde is as always a splendid Gunther, probably the best of all. Ilosvay is perfectly mysterious as Erda (she also makes a damn good First Norn). Greindl, as Hunding, Fafner, and Hagen, delivers his best performances, almost in the class with Frick and Weber. Windgassen has never sounded so vibrant and heroic as Siegfried; I retract my previous reservations about him. As for Varnay's Bruennhilde, this is her supreme achievement, both dramatically and vocally. At times, she even surpasses her performance in the 1951 Goetterdaemmerung under Knappertsbusch. I do not understand why she was not properly appreciated in this country during her Met years, buthen again, neither was Hotter (I suggest reading Varnay's autobiography to see how Rudolf Bing demeaned his Wagnerian artists). Varnay surpasses every other Bruennhilde, with the exception of Frida Leider (of course!). Of course, this being a live performance, there are mishaps, such as missed or late entries by some of the cast, but, as Zinka Milanov would say, "Zo vat?" Despite the undeniable glories of a few other Rings, as well as Kna's 1951 Goetterdaemmerung, I agree with some other reviewers that this is the Ring to which I will constantly return. As sheer drama, this Ring is unbeatable, and maybe unequalled as well. Still, though, the 1951 Knappertsbusch Goetterdaemmerung remains a unique and essential acquisition, so whatever Ring you may have, get Kna's Goetterdaemmerung. But for a complete Ring, check out the Krauss. I wonder sometimes if Decca still possesses the tapes for the complete 1951 Kna Bayreuth Ring. THAT would also be worth hearing! "