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Das Rheingold Hybrid SACD - DSD

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, May 28, 2013
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 28, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Pentatone Music
  • ASIN: B00B5UBE2M
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,532 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

The 6th installment of PentaTone's Wagner Edition brings us to the epic story of Tannh+¤user, performed by top Wagner singers, the Rundfunkchor Berlin, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and conductor Marek Janowski. This Wagner Edition represents the first time in recording history that a label has recorded all major Wagner operas with the same orchestra, choir and conductor.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. S. CROWE on May 28, 2013
Format: Audio CD
When this cycle is completed, Janowski will have the distinction of being the only conductor to have recorded two "official" Ring cycles intended for release, and both in Digital sound at that. The earlier cycle was originally planned in 1975 as a vehicle for Rudolf Kempe, who tragically died before it could be realised, and eventually it fell to Janowski to complete the project beginning in 1980. He has written that he was not happy with the circumstances in which he was "persuaded" to undertake the project, and felt that his approach to the works was not fully formed at that period.
I have never cared for the earlier cycle as my reviews indicate, but certainly Das Rheingold was the best of the cycle, and is actually a rather fine account, not least of all vocally.

This recording is from a single live performance in November 2012, and features the same orchestra as the rest of the earlier recordings in this series.
The recording is excellent, very detailed especially in SACD, and highlights both the strengths and weaknesses of the orchestra, more of which anon.

After a swift, light and airy prelude we are confronted by 3 Maiden Aunts who are both squally and off pitch. The pitch improves but not the squally legato, and their concerted wailing when the gold is revealed is the kind of singing that gives Wagner a bad name. I had to turn to the recent Simone Young/Hamburg recording to hear pitch perfect beautifully alluring Rhine maidens.
They are joined by Schmeckenbecher's Alberich, familiar from the Weigle Ring, who matches his quarry in squally tone, little regard for pitch, but with added shouting and barking. The tone is right, but he cannot sustain a smooth line either here or later.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The lead review makes scathing remarks about almost every aspect of this new Rheingold from the ongoing Janowski Wagner project but in the end gives a moderate recommendation. What I hear is an energetic, surprisingly theatrical reading for a concert performance. There aren't many challenges left in the first and simplest installment of the Ring. Accepting the fact that we live in an era of mediocre Wagner singers - with very few exceptions, none present here - I think drama now counts for a lot and the technical side of the singing comparatively less. After all, no one is going to erase the great Wagner recordings of the past, and if we can find new enjoyment, all the better.

So, yes, the three Rhinemaidens don't sound young, and their intonation is only good enough, but as actors they and Alberich throw themselves into their roles. If Janowski emphasizes momentum over insight, at least he sustains a strong level of dramatic involvement in this first scene - I don't really care in this context if Jochen Schmeckenbecher as Alberich can't sustain a satisfying legato phrase. Opera doesn't rise or fall on vocal point-making. I confess that I don't hear the orchestral drawbacks the lead review complains about so bitterly. The Berlin Radio Sym. makes a more than adequate pit band, and with such rich, clear recorded sound, they don't give the impression of a chamber orchestra.

I would apply the same tolerance throughout. Iris Vermillion is a veteran and sounds it; the Wotan of Tomasz Konieczny is virile and almost angry from the start (a comparison with Thomas Stewart is apt, although Konieczny exhibits that curdled Slavic sound I find hard to adjust to).
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By Brian Mayor on March 24, 2014
Format: Audio CD
This is an excellent recording!

It is evident from opera reviews on Amazon that there are many ways to appreciate opera. Personally I don't quite understand the many complaints about the poor standard of opera singing these days, which seems to be a particular bugbear of Wagnerians. Yes, I can notice if a voice seems a bit strained, and I admit that by their nature Wagner operas are prone to it. But when I listen to the names from the past that opera buffs wax nostalgic about I find myself distracted by the recording quality and the tendency for the singers to dominate, trampling the orchestra and anything else that gets in their path.

I have come to the conclusion that recording quality is important to me, and a balance between good singing and a well-lead, sensitive orchestra (and chorus, when applicable).

So, on to this 'Rheingold'. The quality of the recording is excellent. I have learnt that Janowski likes his tempos a bit on the brisk side, but I found that it worked very well here. I only really noticed the fast pace in a couple of the orchestral interludes and Fasolt and Fafner's first scene, but elsewhere it kept up with or even propelled the the drama of the plot. And the first occurrence of the giants' motif jolted me out of my seat! The wakening of the Rheingold was very luminous. My only minor quibble is the anvil music in Alberich's transformations. It is admirably intense, but on the first occasion there was a sudden, unnatural, increase in volume, as though the engineer had a spasm while leaning on the faders! But on the next occurrence it happened again! Did they reuse the same clip?

The recording quality also helped the singers. I found Tomasz Konieczny's Wotan in particular very clear and powerful.
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