Nach Dem Tann Lenkt Sie Das Taumelnde Ross - Siegfried Jerusalem
Schutzt Mich, Und Helft In Hochster Not! - Siegfried Jerusalem
Nicht Sehr Dich Sorge Um Mich - Siegfried Jerusalem
So Fliehe Denn Eilig Und Fliehe Allein! - Siegfried Jerusalem
Steh! Brunnhild! - Siegfried Jerusalem
Wo Ist Brunnhild', Wo Die Verbrecherin? - Siegfried Jerusalem
Track Listings (9) - Disc #6
Hier Bin Ich, Vater - Siegfried Jerusalem
War Es So Schmahlich, Was Ich Verbrach? - Siegfried Jerusalem
Als Fricka Den Eignen Sinn Dir Entfremdet - Siegfried Jerusalem
So Tatest Du, Was So Gern Zu Tun Ich Begehrt - Siegfried Jerusalem
Wohl Taugte Dir Nicht Die Tor'ge Maid - Siegfried Jerusalem
Und Das Ich Ihn In Stucke Schlug! - Siegfried Jerusalem
Leb Wohl, Du Kuhnes, Herrliches Kind! - Siegfried Jerusalem
Der Augen Leuchtendes Paar - Siegfried Jerusalem
Loge, Hor! - Siegfried Jerusalem
Track Listings (15) - Disc #7
Zwangvolle Plage! Muh Ohne Zweck!
Da Hast Du Die Stucken, Schandlicher Stumper
Als Zullendes Kind Zog Ich Dich Auf
Vieles Lehrtest Du, Mime
Einst Lag Wimmernd Ein Weib
Und Diese Stucken Sollst Du Mir Schmieden
Da Sturmt Er Hin
Heil Dir, Weiser Schmied
Hier Sitz Ich Am Herd Und Setze Mein Haupt
Was Zu Wissen Dir Frommt, Solltest Du Fragen
Die Stucken! Das Schwert! O Weh! Mir Schwindelt
Track Listings (13) - Disc #8
Bist Du Es, Kind?
Fuhltest Du Nie Im Finstren Wald
Her Mit Den Stucken, Fort Mit Dem Stumper
Notung! Notung! Neidliches Schwert!
Hoho! Hoho! Hohei!
In Wald Und Nacht
Zur Neidhohle Fuhr Ich Bei Nacht
Mit Mir Nicht, Hadre Mit Mime
Fafner! Fafner! Erwache, Wurm!
Nun, Alberich, Das Schlug Fehl
Wir Sind Zur Stelle
Dass Der Mein Vater Nicht Ist
Track Listings (12) - Disc #9
Aber Wie Sah Meine Mutter Wohl Aus?
Meine Mutter, Ein Menschenweib!
Ha Ha! Da Hatte Mein Lied
Wer Bist Du, Kuhner Knabe
Zur Kunde Taugt Kein Toter
Wohin Schleichst Du Eilig Und Schlau
Was Ihr Mir Nutzt, Weiss Ich Nicht
Da Lieg Auch Du, Dunkler Wurm!
Wache, Wala! Wala! Erwach!
Stark Ruft Das Lied
Track Listings (11) - Disc #10
Dir Unweisen Ruf' Ich Ins Ohr
Mein Voglein Schwebte Mir Fort
Wohin, Knabe, Heisst Dich Dein Weg?
Kenntest Du Mich, Kuhner Spross
Mit Zerfochtner Waffe Floh Mir Der Feige?
Selige Ode Auf Sonniger Hoh!
Das Ist Kein Mann!
Heil Dir, Sonne!
O Siegfried! Siegfried! Seliger Held!
Dort Seh Ich Grane
Ewig War Ich, Ewig Bin Ich
Track Listings (13) - Disc #11
Welch Licht Leuchtet Dort?
Treuberatner Vertrage Runen
Es Ragt Die Burg Von Riesen Gebaut
Zu Neuen Taten, Teurer Helde
Willst Du Mir Minne Schenken
O Heilige Gotter!
Nun Hor, Hagen
Wen Ratst Du Nun Zu Frein
Jagt Er Auf Taten Wonnig Umher
Wer Ist Gibichs Sohn?
Begrusse Froh, O Held
Willkommen, Gast, In Gibichs Haus!
Track Listings (11) - Disc #12
Deinem Bruder Bot Ich Mich Zum Mann
Bluhenden Lebens Labendes Blut
Frisch Auf Die Fahrt!
Hier Sitz Ich Zur Wacht, Wahre Den Hof
Hore Mit Sinn, Was Ich Dir Sage!
Welch Banger Traume Maren
Was Leckt So Wutend
Brunnhild'! Ein Freier Kam
Schlafst Du, Hagen, Mein Sohn?
Track Listings (15) - Disc #13
Hoioh, Hagen! Muder Mann!
Heiss Mich Willkommen, Gibichskind!
Heil Dir, Gunther!
Gegrusst Sei, Teurer Held
Einen Ring Sah Ich An Deiner Hand
Heil'ge Gotter, Himmlische Lenker!
Helle Wehr! Heilige Waffe!
Gunther, Wehr Deinem Weibe
Welches Unholds List Liegt Hier Verholen?
Vertraue Mir, Betrogne Frau!
Auf Gunther, Edler Gibichung
Frau Sonne Sendet Lichte Strahlen
Ein Albe Fuhrte Mich Irr
Track Listings (15) - Disc #14
Was Leid' Ich Doch Das Karge Lob?
Siegfried! Siegfried! Siegfried!
Trink, Gunther, Trink!
Mime Heiss Ein Murrischer Zwerg
In Leid Zu Dem Wipfel Lauscht' Ich Hinauf
Brunnhild'! Heilige Braut!
Siegfrieds Trauermarsch/Siegfried's Funeral March
War Das Sein Horn?
Hoiho! Hoiho! Wacht Auf!
Nicht Klage Wider Mich!
Schweigt Eures Jammers Jauchzenden Schwall
Starke Scheite Schichtet Mir Dort
Mein Erbe Nun Nehm' Ich Zu Eigen
Liegt Heim, Ihr Raben!
Made between 1980 and 1983, this was the first digital recording of Wagner's Ring cycle. Upon rehearing, it has stood up very well. Janowski's conducting is no-nonsense, no-attitude: he presents the music beautifully playe... more »d by the Dresden forces, with a fine feeling for the drama and relatively swift tempi. The end of Rheingold has great majesty, the opening storm and third act Ride in Walkuere are well-propelled and exciting, and the gorgeous music which takes Siegfried to Brünnhilde's rock is as beautiful as can be, while Siegfried's Rhine Journey is airy and optimistic and his Funeral music suitably heavy and tragic. Theo Adam is a fine Wotan/Wanderer, rising to great dramatic heights in Siegfried; Jessye Norman and Siegfried Jerusalem as the Volsung Twins are at their youthful best; Matti Salminen's Hagen is menacing and cruel; Siegmund Nimsgern doesn't miss a trick as Alberich; Peter Schreier's Mime is Siegfried is truly sung, rather than yelped, and very vivid (as is his Rheingold Loge); Yvonne Minton is a less-shrewish-than-usual Fricka and Norma Sharp is the most aviary Forest Bird on disc. René Kollo's Siegfried is not exactly heroic, but he inflects nicely and is always involved and spirited. The set's only weakness is not terminal but it's a pity: Jeannine Altmeyer is a lovely, intelligent singer, but her voice is too light for Brünnhilde and she's not the riveting character she should be. Luxury casting elsewhere (Lucia Popp is a Rhinemaiden; Cheryl Studer a Valkyrie) pays off. The accompanying booklet contains an essay and scene-by-scene synopsis, but no libretto. But at midprice, this handsome-sounding set is a very good bet. --Robert Levine« less
Made between 1980 and 1983, this was the first digital recording of Wagner's Ring cycle. Upon rehearing, it has stood up very well. Janowski's conducting is no-nonsense, no-attitude: he presents the music beautifully played by the Dresden forces, with a fine feeling for the drama and relatively swift tempi. The end of Rheingold has great majesty, the opening storm and third act Ride in Walkuere are well-propelled and exciting, and the gorgeous music which takes Siegfried to Brünnhilde's rock is as beautiful as can be, while Siegfried's Rhine Journey is airy and optimistic and his Funeral music suitably heavy and tragic. Theo Adam is a fine Wotan/Wanderer, rising to great dramatic heights in Siegfried; Jessye Norman and Siegfried Jerusalem as the Volsung Twins are at their youthful best; Matti Salminen's Hagen is menacing and cruel; Siegmund Nimsgern doesn't miss a trick as Alberich; Peter Schreier's Mime is Siegfried is truly sung, rather than yelped, and very vivid (as is his Rheingold Loge); Yvonne Minton is a less-shrewish-than-usual Fricka and Norma Sharp is the most aviary Forest Bird on disc. René Kollo's Siegfried is not exactly heroic, but he inflects nicely and is always involved and spirited. The set's only weakness is not terminal but it's a pity: Jeannine Altmeyer is a lovely, intelligent singer, but her voice is too light for Brünnhilde and she's not the riveting character she should be. Luxury casting elsewhere (Lucia Popp is a Rhinemaiden; Cheryl Studer a Valkyrie) pays off. The accompanying booklet contains an essay and scene-by-scene synopsis, but no libretto. But at midprice, this handsome-sounding set is a very good bet. --Robert Levine
The All-Purpose RING
F. P. Walter | Albuquerque, NM | 02/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No, you'll never hear a perfect RING. There are just too many variables, options, and difficulties; plus it's an organic entity that takes over 15 hours to stage, so the law of averages automatically kicks in: when you've got more things that can go wrong, more WILL go wrong.
And so it is with its multitudinous recordings. Among the live versions, the earlier ones (Furtwaengler, Krauss, Knappertsbusch) suffer from murky sound, while even those in decent stereo (Boehm, Boulez, Sawallisch, Barenboim) feature thuds, clunks, and assorted live-performance anomalies that grow less endearing with each listening. As for the studio recordings, they're variously undermined by continuity problems (Solti, Karajan), subpar singing (Swarowsky), or deficiencies in tension and energy (Levine, Haitink).
Which brings us to this Marek Janowski set. One of the overlooked achievements of the waning LP era, it was the first all-digital RING, recorded in just 29 efficient months during the early 80s. Late in the same decade it was the first version to debut on CD, at the top of the 90s a mid-price edition emerged, and this dirt-cheap reissue now marks its first appearance in the 21st century. It's a bargain on anybody's terms, and after several return visits down through the years, I'm now ready to name it the cycle with the fewest things wrong and the most right.
First off, it's registered in clean, ungussied digital stereo of exceptional radiance and lucidity - massed strings can be a tad opaque, hinting at its pioneer status, otherwise the color and fine detail are ravishing, plus the whole event has the definite feel of being recorded in long takes: it offers the commitment and intensity of a live performance minus the wrong notes and stage noises. Second, it showcases lithe, athletic playing from Dresden's underpublicized but authentically great orchestra - strings turn on a dime, woodwind staccati are needle sharp, brass are lean and subtly integrated. In contrast to their only continental peers in this repertory - the Vienna PO with its creamy sweetness and the the Berlin PO with its iron power - the Dresdeners favor sheen, transparency, and fast reflexes, lightning as well as thunder. Yes, they can whip up a glowering storm in the SIEGFRIED Act III prelude, but you'll never hear a Rhine journey with more wit, sparkle, and agility.
Janowski's propulsive conducting is invaluable for two main reasons. 1) Beyond projecting the RING's well-known tempests and tensions, he also puts over its comedy and irony - the sly mischief of the Rhinemaids, the gallows humor during the valkyrie confab, the sad silliness of the nibelung squawkfest in SIEGFRIED II iii. 2) He's exceptionally alert to Wagner's dramaturgy, to its NARRATIVE ebb, flow, and movement toward crisis. Janowski's pacing is ideal at the great turning points - Alberich stealing the gold, Erda's intervention when Wotan won't give up the ring (Solti is oblivious here), the mounting violence in Siegfried's meeting with the Wanderer (here Karajan is gingerly), the tension building under Siegfried's narrative in GOETTERDAEMMERUNG III ii as he gradually incriminates himself. This is strong-minded, purposeful conducting that I suspect even Wagner himself would have admired.
The cast, too, is exemplary. For one thing, it's a true ensemble with the same talent staying on board to the finish: out of 12 recurring roles, 11 are single cast (sole exception: Mime, not fatally disruptive). Plus these singers, with unbeaten consistency, are both listenable and characterful. The set's original manufacturer, Ariola-Eurodisc, was a major player during the decade prior, recording both operatic rarities (Schubert, Orff) and standards (FIDELIO, CARMEN). Eurodisc had the budgets to sign up the biggest names, and here even bit parts can be stunningly cast - Kurt Moll as Hunding, Lucia Popp and Hanna Schwarz as Rhinemaidens, Cheryl Studer and Ruth Falcon as walkueren. A couple of the supporting players are routine - Stryczek's rough-and-ready Donner, Noecker's decently sung but undercharacterized Gunther - otherwise Siegmund Nimsgern is the optimum Alberich, a full-bodied character baritone with a genuine legato and meaty high Gs, while Peter Schreier doubles Loge and the SIEGFRIED Mime with imagination, gusto, and (gasp!) real singing.
And so it goes: Jessye Norman and Siegfried Jerusalem are a Sieglinde and Siegmund competitive with anybody's, Yvonne Minton a Fricka of icy loveliness, Ortrun Wenkel intense and specific as Erda and Waltraute, Norma Sharp cool and pretty as both Gutrune and the woodbird, while a young Matti Salminen turns in the most baleful Hagen since Frick - and a Fafner so innately cavernous, his dragon scarcely needs any special miking. As for the three leads, our Wotan is Theo Adam, who probably clocked more stage hours in the role than anybody in Wagner history. By the time of the recording he'd logged 22 RING seasons, but his high bass still has plenty to offer - interpretive savvy, trusty top notes, dead-center intonation. WALKUERE III iii finds the old pro in below-form voice, struggling for focus and steadiness; elsewhere, amazingly, his sound is firmer and more burnished than fifteen years earlier under Boehm (compare the "Abendlich strahlt" in RHEINGOLD, or SIEGFRIED III i). Overall he's a rugged, patriarchal Wotan and he catches the curve of the character superbly, politician, rageaholic, and shaman.
As his daughter Bruennhilde, California soprano Jeannine Altmeyer has been shamefully undervalued down through the years. I heard her LA Isolde in the mid 80s, and trust me, this is a big, carrying voice. Stack her against her recent peers: she has a fuller, steadier instrument than Behrens, a lovelier sound than Marton, the upper extension that Dernesch hadn't, and Jones's caterwauling is beneath discussion. No, she hasn't the slash and bite of dominatrix Bruennhildes like Nilsson and Varnay; instead she offers page after page of fresh, supple, centered sound, you pick the note. She's the aural equivalent of the young, willowy Bruennhilde in Arthur Rackham's watercolors, and it's high time we noticed: Altmeyer is the valkyrie easiest on the ears.
Lastly Rene Kollo's contributions are arguably his most valuable on disc. As John Culshaw once wrote, we must think of the younger Siegfried "as a youth instead of an adult," so dark-timbred tenors such as Melchior, Suthaus, and Windgassen can present big credibility problems. Kollo is near ideal: his silver sound is mainstream lyric tenor - even chest tones preserve a basic leanness and lucidity - but its fine-line definition means unexpected carrying power and maneuverability; in short, he's persuasively youthful yet he can cut through heavy orchestration. Some soft passages, though, catch him thinning the support out of the voice (e.g., "Es sangen die Voeglein" in SIEGFRIED I i), but it's still a splendid achievement, vividly phrased, both mercurial and meditative. And he's fine, too, as his elder self in GOETTERDAEMMERUNG, though not quite as indispensable.
All of which, taken together, accounts for this RING's front-to-back superiority - digital stereo of documentary directness and transparency; podium leadership that articulates narrative structure while projecting not only its passion and poignance but (rare indeed) its comedy and irony; and a repertory casting policy that generates both good sound and plausible characterization. Yes, a couple of the bit players are substandard, but the leads are astonishingly persuasive - Adam's leonine Wotan, Altmeyer's mellifluous Bruennhilde, and several who are arguably Best in Stereo: Kollo's Siegfried, Nimsgern's Alberich, Norman's Sieglinde, Schreier's Mime, Salminen's Fafner and Hagen. In short, it's the All-Purpose RING - ideal for the first-time listener who really hopes the epic will make sense, excellent for the score-in-hand professional who wants a clear, dependable reference edition that actually does what his score says. For me it's the version that has stood up best under repeated listening; so treat it as your basic set, then supplement it, if you like, with choice alternatives - Karajan's WALKUERE, say, or Solti's GOETTERDAEMMERUNG, or Krauss's mono edition.
RCA's bare-bones booklet offers plot summaries but no libretto. Not a problem. For under $20 Amazon can sell you WAGNER'S RING OF THE NIBELUNG by Stewart Spencer et al. (ISBN 0500281947), a reader-friendly modern translation complete with beneficial annotations, commentaries, and background material. "
Oh that Dresden sound...
Mr. Matthew J. Williams | Sydney, NSW Australia | 04/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Dresden Orchestra is among my favourites - it has this wonderful autumnal sound that suits Wagner & Strauss to a 'T'. Janowski's conducting is ideal for living with - he keeps things moving along nicely, sets up climaxes perfectly and never loses sight of the overall structure of the operas. This thoroughly musical performance would be an ideal introduction for anyone coming fresh to the ring, as it lacks the eccentricities of other cycles that can overtake your expectations of what 'should be'. More experienced ring collectors, too, will find themselves enthralled by much in this set.
More than any of the recent recordings Janowski's casting quality runs deep into all the minor roles, and has the advantage of having the same casts for the same roles throughout the four operas. Since Amazon does not clearly list the singers with the roles I will do so at the end of the review.
Highlights are many, and there are even some highlights in the context of the whole recorded history of the Ring (especially considering this is the first in digital sound and still the most natural and clear recording available, with voices and orchestra in perfect balance).
Worthy of special mention are the young Jerusalem & Norman as Siegmund & Sieglinde (Act 1 of Die Walkure must be among the best ever); Nimsgern's articulate Alberich; the Rhinemaidens (have they ever sounded so beautiful?); Peter Schreier's ideally characterised Loge & Mime; and Kurt Moll's cavernous Hunding. Theo Adam's years of experience shine through a wonderfully lived-in if occasionally unsteady Wotan. The Valkyries, boasting several rising stars, are among the very best groups ever assembled.
Kollo's Siegfried is wonderful in the opera that bears his name, a little forced sometimes in Gotterdammerung but still musical. Altmeyer's Brunnhilde isn't particularly attention grabbing - very pleasant in tone but a bit penny-plain in interpretation. She is always adequate but something more insightful (a la Varnay or Behrens) would have been nice. Having said that, I think criticism of her has been too harsh - she has a lovely voice and can hardly be said to spoil this recording. Perhaps it's that, with everything else so fine, one wishes for an all-conquering Brunnhilde to crown the set.
But I come back to the orchestral contribution, which is captured in the finest detail and most beautiful sound on disc. An unregrettable purchase.
Wotan: Theo Adam Donner: Karl-Heinz Stryczek Froh: Eberhard Buchner Loge: Peter Schreier Alberich: Siegumnd Nimsgern Mime: Christian Vogel Fasolt: Roland Bracht Fafner: Matti Salminen Fricka: Yvonne Minton Freia: Marita Napier Erda: Ortrun Wenkel
Woglinde: Lucia Popp Wellgunde: Uta Priew Flosshilde: Hanna Schwarz
Siegmund: Siegfried Jerusalem Hunding: Kurt Moll Wotan: Theo Adam Sieglinde: Jessye Norman Brunnhilde: Jeannine Altmeyer Fricka: Yvonne Minton (Valkyries:) Gerhilde: Eva-Maria Bundschuh Ortlinde: Cheryl Studer Waltraute: Ortrun Wenkel Schwertleite: Anne Gjevang Helmwiege: Ruth Falcon Siegrune: Christel Borchers Grimgarde: Kathleen Kuhlmann Rossweisse: Uta Priew
Siegfried: Rene Kollo Mime: Peter Schreier Der Wanderer: Theo Adam Alberich: Siegmund Nimsgern Fafner: Matti Salminen Erda: Ortrun Wenkel Brunnhilde: Jeannine Altmeyer Voice of a Forest Bird: Norma Sharp
Siegfried: Rene Kollo Gunther: Hans Gunter Nocker Alberich: Siegmund Nimsgern Hagen: Matti Salminen Brunnhilde: Jeannine Altmeyer Gutrune: Norma Sharp Waltraute: Ortrun Wenkel First Norn: Anne Gjevang Second Norn: Daphne Evangelatos Third Norn: Ruth Falcon Woglinde: Lucia Popp Wellgunde: Uta Priew Flosshilde: Hanna Schwarz
Excellent conducting and great singers with a few flaws
The Cultural Observer | 07/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This Ring by Janowski has a lot of strong points that would make it essential for those who love Wagner's Ring. The most prominent feature of this recording, of course, is the fabulous playing of Wagner's score by the Dresden Staatskapelle. Someone familiar with Solti or Bohm would find that Janowski's musical phrasing is much lighter in weight than the usual meat and potatoes Wagner listeners are accustomed to. When I say lighter in weight, I don't mean that the orhcestra sounds leaner (like Levine's orchestra which sounds like diet Wagner), but that the orchestral phrasing of each musical component is highlighted and well-balanced. It is a very classical reading, with a Brahmsian quality to it, and the phrasing is unusually flexible for a German orchestra. I think this reading of the work brings out more of Wagner's polyphonic structures more so than any other conductor was able to do. For the orchestral reading alone would I recommend this Ring, but the cast is quite strong too. For example, you have Jessye Norman and Siegfried Jerusalem as the Walsung twins. While Jerusalem and Norman would not erase memories of Rysanek, King, Vickers, and Janowitz, they are a very credible pair at the prime of their careers. Theo Adam's Wotan was never a large-Hotter like sound, but what he makes up for lack of weight is an intelligent reading that most of today's Wotans could never touch. It is a very insightful reading, although he was much better for Bohm. Siegmund Nimsgern is an excellent Alberich, and Yvonne Minton makes a most beautifully vocalized and dramatized Fricka. The Norns, Rhinemaidens, Valkyries, and Gibichungs are all very well cast, with Matti Salminen coming to special mention for his amazing Hagen. Kurt Moll makes a most fabulous Hunding, and Peter Schreier's Loge and Mime are some of the best sung (and not yelped) character roles in the ring. Ortrun Wenkel's Erda and Waltraute are not to be missed.
Of course, I must speak of the two main characters--Brunnhilde and Siegfried, who are so essential to making any Ring work. The Siegfried in this recording is Rene Kollo. He is the first jugendlich dramatische heldentenor ever to be cast in the role at his prime in such a recording, and while several Bayreuth and pirate Rings showcase great tenor voices such as Hans Hopf, Melchior, Windgassen, and Treptow as Siegfried, no one had the kind of voice Wagner had in mind for the role. Rene Kollo has it all--sensitive phrasing, great acting, and a voice that spans Siegfried's vocal requirements. I think he is one of the best Siegfrieds since Jess Thomas.
Brunnhilde is taken by Jeannine Altmeyer, who was Sieglinde in Boulez's ring in the 1976 Patrice Chereau production in Bayreuth. Hers is a light voice, a bit lighter than Crespin's, but unfortunately she doesn't do as much wonders with the role the way Crespin does. It is a very young, girlish Brunnhilde that makes us believe that she is a willowy, gorgeous figure that Wagner had in mind when writing the Ring libretto. She isn't the most involved of singers though. It is very well vocalized, but lacks the beauty of expression given by singers such as Helga Dernesch, Gwyneth Jones, Regine Crespin, and Astrid Varnay. Still, her Brunnhilde is a wonderful addition to the discography (one could wish that she would work on her German a bit), and her interpretation gives us an image of a young, svelte woman.
The sound in this recording is excellent, and I'd recommend it to anyone who would want to understand the polyphonic scores of Wagner's ring."
A Miracle Of Clarity & Modern Technology
Joseph Curwen | 12/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
Of all the modern digital Cycles out there (Haitink, Levine, Neuhold, Sawallisch) this one far outstrips them in clarity & conducting. As for the cast, with a few reservations, is the best assembled in the studio for the past 34 years. At first I was a bit disappointed by Janowski's conducting. He take a cool, analytical view of the score, passion does not run very high & everything seems calculated. This is not your Wagner in the Solti or Karajan vein. After repeated listening though I came to the conclusion that Janowski's view is just as valid, with more attention paid to the orchestral score instead of trying to make a dramatic statement with every note. What emerges from all this, Janowski seems to be trying to put across, is that there is no need for overblown histrionics: Wagner wrote the drama into the score, therefore it's superfluous to try to tinker with it in the effect to heighten the drama. As for the orchestral engineering, be prepared to be amazed. In NO other 'Ring' has so much detail stood out: from the Wagner Tubas coming through loud & clear in the final moments of 'Das Rheingold' to the harp in 'The Ride of the Valkyries' (yes, there is a harp!) the list in endless. Make no mistake though, all this detail does not sacrifice the power of the orchestra one bit.
The singing is very fine, maybe no record beater in vocal accomplishment, but fine just the same. Adam's Wotan is my only real complaint. With his noticeable wobble & naturally harsh tone, the ruler of the Gods comes across as nearly villainous as Alberich. Interpretively he was better in the Bohm 'Ring'. Nimsgern can't hold a candle to Neidlinger in the role of Alberich, but he does what he can & he does yield some rewards. His Alberich is more subdued than most & he does his best to give Alberich a more three-dimensional portrait, no evil super villain here. Kollo's Siegfried is very nice, not great but nice, if only he had more vocal heft. Interpretively though he is top notch, he seems to have thought out every word & gives one of the most dramatically aware performances ever recorded of this role. Altmeyer's Brunnhilde will certainly divide people into different camps. By no means is hers a powerhouse voice, what you get though is more vulnerability & a more feminine quality lacking in other Brunnhildes (she still has more voice than Behrens though). Norman's Sieglinde sounds younger & more fresh than in the later Levine 'Ring'. Jerusalem does a nice turn as Siegmund, more lyrical & light in tone that others, but in the studio he can cope better with the lower notes than in a live production, so no worries here. Salminen turns in a great performance of Hagen & Fafner, easily conveying power & menace in both roles. The lesser roles are all well done: Popp & Schwarz as two of the Rhinemaidens, Moll as Hunding, Norma Sharp as the wood bird & Gutrune.
All in all, maybe not your first 'Ring', but definitely worth getting if you can afford it. As a final note: What the devil does a tornado have to do with the 'Ring'? Surely they could have found a better picture for the box cover, I don't know why, but that just annoys me. "
My Favorite Audio Recording of "The Ring"
Brian D. Swan | Pensacola, FL USA | 05/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For audio recordings, this one is highest on my list. From the 50s, no one can argue against the Flagstad recordings made with Furtwangler (if only the could be "cleaned up" a bit better), and the Bohm/Bayreuth and Solti recordings are the pinacle of the 60s (for what ever reason, I've just never warmed up to the Karajan recordings). The only "memorable" recording from the 70s was the Boulez/Bayreuth recording - but this may not be memorable for the right reasons. Then in the 80's this gem was released (at a horrific price, I might add) and I was astonished. This Ring is like no others in it's clarity and focus on musical nuance vice overwhelming power (although ther is no lack of that,either, during the various finales). Some people fault Altmeyer's voice as not being "big enough" for the part. I disagree. I think the clarity of her voice is a perfect match for the overall clarity of the recording. I also believe that her Seglinde is one of the few saving graces of the Boulez recording. It's tru that later she "lost it' and apparently gave several very poor performances at the Met, but this recording captures what may have been one of the most "beautiful" Wagnarian voices at its prime. The Dresden Staatskapelle, under Janowski is in top form, and in keeping with the oveall tone of the recording, has a level of transparency that is refreshing. many of the middle voices that are frequently lost can be heard, and if you enjoy the "game" of trying to identify all of the lietmotives as they race by, this recording seems to have been designed just for you. In closing I will say that the Levine/Met production is my overall favorite recording of the Ring - but that is for the sole reason that it is VIDEO, and as much as I enjoy listening to opera, nothing equals WATCHING it. But if I am in a situation where all I want is the audio, I will go for the Janowski recording every time!"