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Couldn't understand why such a great blu ray is charged at such a low price, whereas some other not as good classical blu rays are charged much much higher. It's a no brainer, order it and enjoy! Highly recommend!
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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
A most enjoyable Ring Without Words perfect for non-purists especially!Sept. 5 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Lorin Maazel considered requests to create a synthesis of Wagner's Ring cycle as a continuous `Ring without Words' twice before finally agreeing to the request made by the recording company, Telarc, in 1987. The resultant 75 minute recording proved to be a big seller and in Maazel's opinion it helped to create a new audience for the operas.
In creating this continuous synthesis Maazel attempted to produce a reduced version which followed strict chronological order and which introduced all the main themes and motifs without adding a single note not written by Wagner. In this he reinforced Wieland Wagner's view (Wagner's Grandson) that the essence of the work lies in the orchestral score.
Weiland Wagner's view is worth considering in this context and can be quoted as stated to Maazel at a rehearsal of the Ring as `The orchestra, that's where it all is - the text behind the text, the universal subconscious that binds Wagner's personae one to another and to the proto-ego of legend ....'
As one who has known The Ring cycle for around 40 years or so this synthesis is both impressive and intriguing. It is also successful in terms of what was attempted as in paragraphs 1-2 above. It is impressive because it covers so many of the key moments and intriguing because it jumps unexpectedly from one key point to another without including what you would expect to hear next! It becomes a sort of quiz - spot the excerpt, and a rather enjoyable one too!
The whole experience is enormously enhanced by the wonderful playing of the Berlin Philharmonic at full strength. Four harps is an impressive sight not to mention vast ranks of strings and incisively burnished brass. If ever an orchestra was born to play this music it has to be this one. The visual impact provides a real advantage over audio only reproduction.
In terms of reproduction, this early example of high definition recording from 2000 is a complete success with crisp imaging of considerable clarity and fully involving camera work. The sound is wide ranging and presented in DTS-HD 5.1 as well as stereo. There is a short bonus in which Maazel says much of what is relayed above and which is even more fully covered in the sleeve notes.
As a keen Wagner Ring enthusiast, I still found this a very enjoyable experience for all the reasons above. I would expect it to give much pleasure to all but the most hardened of purists and, in addition, it might be a very useful way of getting to know the basics of the opera cycle as an introduction in miniature so to speak. For all the above reasons therefore, and in my own personal opinion, it seems only reasonable to rate this as a 5 star issue.
In conclusion, I would suggest that this fine disc should, at the very least, warrant serious consideration from purchasers interested in this popular program.
Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:
A wonderful review. I was at first thinking of the Ring exposition I heard in college, which was definitely with words and accompanied by the London Philharmonic. That was in the 1960s and long before digital recordings. I look forward to this recording all the more. (see below)
You have raised some very relevant issues concerning the utility and the mechanics of reviews by Amazon clients. I thoroughly agree with your thoughtful criteria, and I am angry beyond measure by the cynical lack of responsibility in the away Amazon manages this potentially invaluable resource ............ Opinions are useless unless they are the product of educated minds, and a star-scoring system is fraudulent unless all those who apply it have agreed to detailed criteria for each level. (see below)
You hit it right on............... Anyway, keep up the good work. Your very intelligent review persuaded me to buy this when I was of two minds before. (see below)
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Melodic Synopsis of the Ring SoarsOct. 24 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Whenever a great work is summarized, or truncated, the serious reader or listener is skeptical. The Ring in its glorious 16 hour stretch is a feast for the converted, but often is too much for a beginner trying to grapple with a large and complex cultural monument. The Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Lorin Maazel plays direct quotes from the Ring that are lifted from the orchestral score of the four operas in the order in which Wagner composed them. The result is a highly organic presentation of the major leitmotifs and important orchestral interludes of the Ring. As such it is an important achievement which will help in promoting The Ring and winning for it a new generation of admirers.
I appreciate the fact that Maazel in stitching the excerpts together did not alter anything that Wagner wrote, nor did he add any superfluous material.
The result is a compelling sonic introduction to the musical building blocks of The Ring. I would have added subtitles to the film which would identify what elements of the RIng were being presented as they were being performed in real time. This information is available in the notes which come with the DVD, but how much more enllighting they would be if they appeared on the screen as the musicians were playing each excerpt. This improvement would be welcome especially by teachers who use the DVD as part of a lesson plan on Wagner's compositional devices and orchestration.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Ravishingly beautifulJan. 28 2011
Gerhard P. Knapp
- Published on Amazon.com
Wagner's Ring "without words" is not a novel concept: Stokowski and some of his fellow-conductors have performed orchestral "syntheses" of Wagner operas, especially during the 1960s and later. There is nothing sacrilegious about orchestral excerpts from operas, though some critics have sneered at the so-called "bleeding chunks". Orchestral excerpts and syntheses will particularly please those who, for one reason or another, have trouble sitting through these endless operas - especially when they are celebrated on consecrated ground in Bayreuth. Maazel and the Berliner Philharmoniker (in huge complement) have recorded this performance in 2000 in the Berlin Philharmonie in excellent video and audio. It is a 78-minute tour de force, for the then 70-year old conductor as well as for the musicians who follow him on the beat and who often have to play grueling long fffs or harmonically challenging passages. In brief: they all work a small miracle, and the performance turns out to be stellar, passionate, powerful, ravishingly beautiful and utterly moving. Maazel lets you feel that underneath Wagner's amassed brass there is existential angst and there lurks the fear of a new era, hand in hand with this poignantly nostalgic last blossoming of late Romanticism. When the performance comes to a close, you will know that this is indeed the twilight of an epoch, for better or for worse. Get it while you can.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Music drama indeed!Oct. 3 2012
- Published on Amazon.com
Even if you know nothing about The Ring, or more, you think Wagner is too difficult for you, this Blu-ray will definitely change your mind. I watched and listened to the music assuming I know nothing about The Ring. The drama is in the music itself. If you don't know the plot (a summary is given in the pamphlet accompanying the disc) you will be imagining things that may be happening. It may be a totally different story than the one Wagner created, but it will captivate you during the 80 minutes this compilation lasts. You will probably recognize some of the music as it has been used in movies, commercials, etc. For those that know the plots and the music, you will go through the whole cycle in 80 minutes. It does not replace the complete cycle with voices, productions and everything that an opera encompass, but it does a very good job at letting us enjoy the music and the drama it represents. The Blu-ray surround sound is just perfect, in particular for those like me who listen to it in full volume. The camera work adds to the enjoyment of the music. Looking at the players while listening to the music makes you feel you are really there. I strongly recommend this Blu-ray to those who already know The Ring and in particular to those who don't know it or are hesitant to try Wagner.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Excellent except for some technical Blu-ray & audio issuesAug. 12 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
This review is to add a few observations to the general consensus, with which I agree. No one should be dissuaded from purchasing this because I give it, in effect, an A rather than an A-plus.
Maazel lets the music speak for itself. Nothing is over-dramatized, and there were times that I missed the extra punch that some conductors (Solti & Szell, for examples) have given various phrases. The orchestra, not unexpectedly, played gloriously. Oddly, the Philharmonie Berlin was not filled to capacity for this event.
The remainder of my comments deals with the technical quality of the audio, video, and authoring of this Blu-ray disc:
I first have to express surprise that this 2000 performance was captured in HD--I didn't know it went back that far. I would not have been surprised if this were a film transfer since 35mm film is inherently HD, but this is a direct-to-video recording, and it is quite detailed.
The audio, wonderful as it is, could have been better. This may be the only time I have preferred the LPCM stereo track to DTS-HD-MA, the latter adding almost nothing to a sense of space, while slightly muffling things, especially the first violins. The volume adjustments and balances in the microphone mix from the various sections of the orchestra, while too subtle to notice in themselves, had the overall effect of preventing crescendos and climaxes from reaching their full dynamic potential.
The Blu-ray mastering is slightly botched in several ways: (1) in spite of the disc's relative austerity of features, it seems to have been authored with Java, unnecessarily slowing its load time. (2) The authoring language prevents any kind of resume capability should you turn the player off; likewise, there is no bookmarking feature, although one can resume by going to a specific chapter from the menu. Along with this, the disc provides the player with no memory of its audio setting, should one happen not to listen to all of it at once. (3) Time, chapter, and title information are not made available to the player for display either on-screen or on the device's on status window. All this makes it rather inconvenient to divide one's viewing of the 75-minute performance into shorter listening sessions; but considering that the cumulative effect is greater when hearing it all in one seating, these limitations could be considered a good thing. Certainly the audience gets few breaks in the Ring operas themselves, Das Rheingold, for instance being one 2-and-a-half-hour bladder-testing act! Better though, to give the home-theater audience a choice.
I hope that these comments may be of interest to some and that they may somehow filter through to EuroArts, who needs to clean up their act a bit, although I must express profound appreciation to them for stepping in where DG, London, Philips, EMI, & Sony have all failed, namely in providing an adequate number of classical-music Blu-ray releases. From that standpoint, and others, we are very lucky indeed to have this disc.