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Der Ring Des Nibelungen Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, August 10, 2004
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$142.47 $32.95

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 10, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 14
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B00011MJV6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,910 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Editorial Reviews

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

Customer Reviews

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Yes, this recording is all about the music, which is after all why we buy CD recordings.
Dennis M. Clark
His conducting is very direct, and some might say that he sacrifices soothing beauty and striking power for overall clarity.
Eric S. Kim
Rene Kollo has it all--sensitive phrasing, great acting, and a voice that spans Siegfried's vocal requirements.
The Cultural Observer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 104 people found the following review helpful By F. P. Walter on February 13, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Matthew J. Williams on April 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
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.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By The Cultural Observer on July 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.Read more ›
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