Patrick T. Cassidy | Portland, OR USA | 07/27/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although some might dismiss them as a "second tier" orchestra and opera company, I am delighted with what Goodall and crew did. The immediacy of having The Ring in my own language has totally transformed my experience of it. I'll still be listening to the Solti, Karajan, and Levine Rings, but my appreciation of them will be enhanced by this production. Goodall and company may not be of the "highest" caliber, but they certainly give good, solid performances and they have made the work accessible to the common listener. This is no small achievement.I wouldn't want this to be the only Ring I listened to, but after only one hearing I wouldn't want to be without it, either.Some purists will undoubtedly object, but it is worth noting that some of the German press have indicated envy at English speakers having Wagner's Ring available to us in this intimate way while they have to struggle with the increasingly archaic brand of German Wagner wrote in.Thank you to Goodall, cast, and Chandos for giving us this gift. I am thrilled!"
Bill King | Reno, Nv., United States | 04/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The title of this review (ISBN #) leads you to Andrew Porter's English translation of the Ring. Its the best available because it lines up note for note with the German libretto. Check the user reviews of this book at Amazon.However this same translation, in booklet form, will come with the liner notes inside this audio set, because Woodall used it as the score. As I write this, there are now no sample sound files at Amazon.com, but not to worry, just move over to the English Amazon site at amazon.co.uk and sample the wonderful music and reviews from the Ring's four individual opera pages. Perhaps like me this will be more than enough to cause you to click the Buy Now button. But remember if you would rather buy American head back here first! :)P.S. Are there any bad reviews of Goodall's version anywhere in cyberspace? I checked some classical music review sites and this set was universally praised!."
"Mein Erbe nun nehm ich zu eigen."
Eric S. Kim | Southern California | 05/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are over 20 complete Ring recordings on the market, and all of them have different interpretations. There are those who follow the score as closely as possible: Janowski, Haitink, Haenchen. There are those who take a more mystical and more lyrical approach: Karajan, 50% Keilberth. There are those who go for slower tempi in order to enchance the music experience: Levine, Furtwangler, Knappertsbusch, Goodall. And there are those who go for the strongest energy ever imagined: Krauss, Bohm, Boulez, Solti.
This live English recording by Goodall and the English National Opera takes slow tempi to a whole new level. It sounds more Celtic than Germanic or Norse. While I do praise Goodall with his amazing attention to detail, his ridiculously sluggish tempi will tick some Wagnerites off: nothing is faster than andante. But I did enjoy listening to the slow beauty of his "Immolation".
The English National Opera Orchestra sounds nice, even if the sluggishness can bring them down at times. "Forging Scene" doesn't sound too good in a slow tempo, but the entire orchestra does sound lucid here. Siegfried Act Two Prelude is the creepiest; Act Three Prelude is the dullest. All of the leitmotivs are heard loud and clear, just like in Janowski's version.
And who can forget the marvelous singers? Norman Bailey has that divine spark that Hotter used to cherish. He's heavy and unblemished, and he handles the English text with flair and sheen. I enjoyed his singing during Siegfried Act One.
Rita Hunter is at her strongest in Walkure and Siegfried. She is at her weakest in Gotterdammerung. What may have caused her downfall in the fourth installment? "The world may never know."
Alberto Remedios (who also plays Siegfried) and Margaret Curphy are wonderful as Siegmund and Sieglinde. You would probably never think that these two sound great in the English language, but these two prove us wrong. As for Remedios singing as Siegfried . . . Wow! He never drags in either of the last two installments, and he uses the correct emotions in every scene that he is in.
Derek Hammond-Stroud is three-dimensional, but not that much. Still, he can sound very demanding in Rheingold Scene One and Siegfried Act Two Scene One. Gregory Dempsey isn't emotional enough as Mime. He doesn't sound fearful or depressed at all, which makes him the dullest nibelung for the Ring. Emile Belcourt isn't as good as Gerhard Stolze or Peter Schreier, but he certainly can make some of the best of an English-speaking Loge. THe rest of the cast make Ring wonderful to listen to.
All in all, this should NOT be your first Ring. But if you already have a bunch of Rings and would like to see how it sounds like in English, then this is the one for you."
Alan Potts | Brighton,East Sussex,UK | 11/03/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back in 1974(when this series of performances were recorded at the London Coliseum)I attended as many as I could and found that Mr. Goodall managed to obtain performances of rare power and authority.He was already 74 years old at the time(he died in 1990)and was a very shy man but put him in a pit with a Wagner score and he became a magician.He spent years before performances coaching his singers and the orchestra so that they fully learned their parts and understood what was required. Norman Bailey - a great Wotan,Rita Hunter sweet of voice,Alberto Remedios a superb heldentenor,along with the whole cast who perform well.If you want a Ring that gets to the heart of Wagner this is the one to buy!"
Brilliant, well-sung and gorgeously conducted and properly W
The Cultural Observer | 07/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many reviewers, whether they are the Amazon kind or the professional news-writing type, will be split about this version of the Ring.
The first thing that many a novice Wagnerite will tell you (and trust me, many of them have been quite loud about this Ring) is that the recording loses its original essence due to its transcription to the English language. It is true that the Ring is more beautiful in the original mittel-hoch Deutsche that Wagner wrote the piece in, but how fluid and beautiful Andrew Porter's translation is! Everything in the text seems to leap out from the page as if Wagner had written the opera in English. I don't find it bothersome, I find it very intricate and beautiful in fact, that the Ring was translated to English. I've heard the Ring sung in Italian too, and while the pure vowels of Italian and the translation they used were very good, it was nowhere close to the artful linguistic play of words that Porter uses for this Ring. I could almost describe it as noble and Shakespearean.
The second quibble that most reviewers would have about this Ring is Goodall's choice of tempi. If Wagnerians thought Knappertsbusch was slow, they had better listen to Goodall and see what slow really means. Goodall's Ring is spread out over 16 (!!) CD's, unlike most Rings which come in a box of 14. However slow his tempi may be though, I find that Goodall mastered the art of bringing the flowing structure of Wagner's music in such a way that no other conductor has ever done after Knappertsbusch and Furtwangler. Wagner's Leitmotifs have never been so played more distinctly and beautifully that each intricate detail is exposed. The way the composer wanted a conductor to conduct his music is to have a transparent, incandescent, yet heavy interpretation (grand). I think, of all the conductors who have done the Ring, only Furtwangler, Knappertsbusch, Clemens Krauss, and Reginald Goodall have fulfilled that request. Other great Ring conductors include of course, Karajan, Solti, Bohm, Levine, Keilberth, Janowski, and Boulez, but all of these conduct Wagner in a way that detracts slightly from what the composer wants from the music. Of course, Karajan brought a most beautiful lyrical vision to his Ring, and Solti brought a drive that no other conductor has matched since, and Bohm, while producing one of the most lyrical and organic Rings (it is my favorite), does not bring the Leitmotif structure to life the way Goodall does. This recording shows each detail of Wagner's massive score, and for that reason I would recommend this Ring for those who want to understand what Wagner truly wanted for his masterpiece. The English National Opera Orchestra plays magnificently, much more so thirty years ago when this Ring was recorded than they do now in their pedestrian playing. In short, I would say that the conducting in this Ring is very Wagnerian in the sense that it is transparent and grand, certainly an interpretation that must be examined and learned by other leading Wagnerian conductors today.
Of course, with such a great vision of the orchestra, you must not miss out on the singers. What I have to say of course about the soloists, is nothing but praise for their excellent vocalizing and dramatic rendering of Wagner's text. In my opinion, Rita Hunter is the best Brunnhilde who sings all the notes and gives us an excellent portrayal of Brunnhilde's character in all the three operas with her Valkyrie. Period. She gives us Nilsson's thrilling vocal power combined with Dernesch's sensitive and sensual lyricism and Gwyneth Jones' acute dramatic powers where needed. She has a very beautiful voice, and I think if this Brunnhilde was captured in the original German, she would have made the reference Brunnhilde. Alberto Remedios not only sings Siegfried's notes well, but beautifully too! Not even Windgassen had the gorgeous tone of his instrument. Again, if this were done in German, he would have made the best Siegfried. His tone is simply ravishing and young. His Siegmund is amazing too. Norman Bailey's Wotan is simply amazing. I have never heard a better Wotan since Hotter and Stewart. It is intense and dramatic at the same time that it is vocally beautiful. Clifford Grant as Fafner and Hunding is a must-hear, and the rest of the cast from the Norns and Valkyries (with Anne Evans singing Helmwige and the Third Norn!!!!) to the Rhinemaidens, giants, gods, Nibelung, Alberich, Mime, and Gibichungs are well-characterized and beautifully vocalized. A top cast for a top Ring.
If only this Ring were sung in German, I would think that Solti's Ring would easily be dethroned from its status as opera's definitive Ring cycle. This, I don't think should be your first Ring, but if you can make it your second, give it a listen and bask in the beauty of Goodall's interpretation."