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Ring O/T Nibelung Comp [Classical, Limited Edition, Box set]

Richard Wagner Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 185.25
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Those without access to video disc players can now enjoy this 1989 Ring production, although stage noises and singers husbanding their resources come off less forgivingly in an audio-only context. But the recording is surprisingly crisp and vibrant, save for distortion in loud tuttis. Wolfgang Sawallisch has a sixth sense for pacing, proportion, and keeping singers secure. A bargain worth considering, but no texts are included. --Jed Distler

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good rendering Jan. 19 2003
Format:Audio CD
Sawallisch's rendering flows naturally, as Boehm's, without the artificial climaxes Solti made in his widely admired set. The nuances and subtleties in music and texts are taken care of. But the cast is barely competent. The main complaint is on Behrens and Hale. I have never heard her live in opera house, but from her performance in this set and Levine's, I really cannot praise her much. Her voice is often strenuous and hard to the ears. In the middle range, the voice is hollow, which makes her sound more like a lunatic woman than a stout Bruennhilde. Hale's sweel and beautiful voice is a real pleasure, but his Germna diction can turn me off from time to time. Moreover, I feel he screws up my enjoyment in the Wotan's farewell to Bruennhilde by singing ahead of the right beat the first "Leb wohl". That mistake puts the orchestra in a mess for quite a while. Kollo's siegfried is dramatically satisfactory. Varady and Zednik are simply wonderful.
In general, this set can rank with any other Ring set, but, in my opinion, should not be anyone's first Ring.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a totally involving "real" performance Feb. 28 1999
By Mr. DAVID Geer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
From the very first note through to the end of Goetterdaemerung this performance constantly holds the attention. Yes it is a theatre based "real" performance, yes it is not quite as detailed as some broadcasts of the Bayreuth Ring I heard with Behrens in better voice, No I wouldn't part with it.

Sawallisch's interpretation and the orchestral playing are simply perfect. You feel the rightness of the tempos which are neither too fast nor too slow, the whole has an organic feel which would defy Mark Twains famous observation on Wagner about waiting 2 hours for 20 minutes of excitement (I paraphrase).

The singing seems right though without text it is particularly difficult to distinguish Mime from Siegfried in act one of Siegfried (surprisingly). There are other moments when perhaps a studio might have been better with a different singer. I for one however, think Hale is simply one of the best Wotans I have heard. Behrens is not in perfect voice but gives such a wonderfully intelligent performance her vocal vulnerability somehow merely enhances this. As to Varady as Sieglinde, as one reviewer above says it is an acquired taste, however one acquires the taste very quickly - it is a very Austro-Hungarian sound, but such achingly lovely warmth it is almost worth the set just to have this performance alone. (I haven't heard better even the much admired Norman pales by comparison).

The other principals seem right, with good maidens and norms. The recorded sound though good obviously does reflect the live nature of the performances, usually not enough to detract from enjoyment but occasionally the intrusion is unwelcome. The hissing of the smoke generator at the end of Walkuere being the major offender.

For the price of a ticket to just one of the 4 evenings in the theatre I really don't think you can do better than close your eyes and let the Bayerische Staatsoper carry you on the waters of the Rhine through fire and brimstone to an inevitable conclusion - back where you started, somehow enriched and cleansed on the way through by singing and playing that you would be very lucky indeed to experience in any Theatre anywhere unless you were especially lucky!

PS - The set comes with only summaries of the action rather than full texts - If you can't live without texts & translations, there is a set available through Amazon or the web has German only texts.

Feb 2008 - After rereading this review and listening to the BBC try in vain to pick more than individual widely dispersed performances for its 2008 recommended CD sets of the individual works and then whole heartedly pick Boulez/Chereau for the DVD set I have some addition words to add here. Mostly it boils down to this; when I bought this set there was little to choose from in the range of my pocket and I didn't like the Janowski much, mainly for its almost clinical precision. Since then heaps more Rings have become available and like one of the other reviewers here I would think twice now if this were to be my only set (which it still is but I know the Boulez live well from memory and was not at all surprised that got the nod for a complete DVD production. Gwyneth Jones is fantastical as Brunhilde though I also like Anne Evans for Barenboim.) The above other reviewers lengthy overview says it all I think, nevertheless when you get this out and start playing it it does take you organically to the end, which is what I said before...so, personally I also think the Goodall English Ring was simply superb in the theatre and is not at all bad on disc either so...these days I rarely have the time for the whole kit and kabbuddle and play the Walkuere Excerpts from Barenboim for Evans & Tomlinson though Secunde is not bad as Sieglinde. For Sieglinde I play Varady's recording with Hoffman and Diskeau as conductor! Good listening!
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous Ring Oct. 26 1999
By J. Luis Juarez Echenique - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
We should all thank EMI for releasing in audio these sensational performances. This Ring is quite simply the best since Bohm's, with superb singers and a great conductor who really understands what these operas are all about. Hale, Behrens, Wlaschiha are all stupendous, but I have to single out the ravishing, glorious singing of Julia Varady as Sieglinde, for her alone I would buy this cycle (and at a sensational price!). No matter how many Rings you own, you should get this one immediately!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Blut-Bruderschaft schwore ein Eid!" May 14 2007
By Eric S. Kim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This live Ring recording might not be as good as the Karajan, Janowski, and Krauss ring, but it's not at all a hopeless wreck.

I guess you can say that Sawallisch is half-Karajan, half-Janowski. While he does stay true to the orchestral score like Janowski, he also puts in a little Karajan-like lyricism. At some points he loses track with orchestra and singers (as does every live recording) so Bohm has more control in his live bAyreuth recording. Wrong notes in this live recording won't matter, as the entire orchestra gets everything going in all four nights at the opera. The strings never surrender to imperfection, and the winds are marvelously aligned. I just wish that some of the singers would keep up with the orchestra.

Speaking of singers, they just don't match with other essential casts. I may be biased, but Robert Hale just didn't do it for me. He sounded dull and tedious, and his "Leb Wohl, du Kuhnes herrlisches Kind" wasn't enough to astound me.

Hildegard Behrens is just like Nilsson and Crespin. While she's not the best, she is definitely another perfect Brunnhilde of choice. She's at her most dazzling when she performs Siegfried. The only problem I had with her are her low notes: too stuffy and too rough.

Honorable mentions go to Robert Schunk as Siegmund and Julia Varady for Sieglinde. They do very well here, especially Varady. They never back down to tiredness, and they (almost) never lose track of the conductor.

Rene Kollo's Siegfried was a disappointment. In Janowski's version he had no flaws whatsoever when he performed in "Siegfried" and "Gotterdammerung". Here he is not good enough; his tiresome "Forging Scene" is obvious evidence of that.

Ekkehard Wlaschiha is one hell of a vigorous Alberich. I praise him in Rheingold. His performance in Siegfried could've improved with more distrustfulness towards Mime and the Wanderer.

Helmut Pampuch as Mime is just like Peter Schreier and Heinz Zednik: he's very VERY good. Nuff said.

Robert Tear as Loge is on par with Gerhard Stolze and Heinz Zednik. Sometimes he takes things too low, but all is forgiven with his management of character development.

As for everyone else, they do a splendid job. The biggest problems I have with this recording are unintentionally loud noises on the theater stage. Yes, loud stomps and thuds and crashes are heard in other live recordings, also, but this one really irritated me. They were louder than most recordings. Noises aside, Sawallisch's Ring is recommendable if you're looking for live performances. And you could also try Boulez and Krauss. Neuhold I've haven't heard yet, but I heard it's also a great live one.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good rendering Jan. 19 2003
By Ko-Hsiu Hou - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Sawallisch's rendering flows naturally, as Boehm's, without the artificial climaxes Solti made in his widely admired set. The nuances and subtleties in music and texts are taken care of. But the cast is barely competent. The main complaint is on Behrens and Hale. I have never heard her live in opera house, but from her performance in this set and Levine's, I really cannot praise her much. Her voice is often strenuous and hard to the ears. In the middle range, the voice is hollow, which makes her sound more like a lunatic woman than a stout Bruennhilde. Hale's sweel and beautiful voice is a real pleasure, but his Germna diction can turn me off from time to time. Moreover, I feel he screws up my enjoyment in the Wotan's farewell to Bruennhilde by singing ahead of the right beat the first "Leb wohl". That mistake puts the orchestra in a mess for quite a while. Kollo's siegfried is dramatically satisfactory. Varady and Zednik are simply wonderful.
In general, this set can rank with any other Ring set, but, in my opinion, should not be anyone's first Ring.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice ring. Too nice for the price. Jan. 4 2007
By Jose L. Lobato - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is the first ever ring I heard, being the second the Levine's DVD collection and the third is Böhm's. This set is very decent, sometimes Kollo's voice sounds too tired but hell, it's a LIVE recording! Not even singers like Windgassen are made of steel.

Das Rhinegold.

I liked it. The first scene is weak at some point but is decent. The storm aria on the fourth scene is the part I disliked the most. Wotan is marveolous and Fafner is outstanding. Take a second listening to Fricka.

Die Walkure.

God! What a marvelous performance! But not totally by Behrens. Siegmund and Sieglinde are romantic and distillate love on the "wintersturme" part. The Ride of the Walkyries is excelent, perfect. More beautiful even than in Solti's. And the "Lehb Wohl" aria of Wotan at the end made me get goosebumps: in one word: perfect. You can note that Behrens gets tired by the end of the Third act but with the amount of singing..... it's something normal.

Siegfried.

The weakest part is the final part of the Forging Scene. At that point, Kollo is tired... VERY tired. Mime is decent. Fafner, once again, is perfect. The Wanderer is very well sung.

Gotterdammerung.

Marvelous performance by Salminen. It's the Gotterdammerung to listen, unless you want to pay 60 bucks or more for Karajan's.

Herr Sawallisch is great. Has a very particular read of the Wagnerian partiture but he's great, almost as perfect as Böhm. It's a light ring cycle... and costs the half as Karajan's or Solti's. Buy it.
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