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Ring Without Words

36 customer reviews

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(Sep 25, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

A unique synthesis of orchestral music from Wagner's Ring cycle, arranged in a free-flowing and chronological cycle by world-famous conductor Lorin Maazel. Comprised of the four operas of the Ring cycle, "The Ring Without Words" manages to capture the musical mind of one of the most exceptional and gifted composers in history in only seventy minutes. The Berlinker Philharmoniker plays the work with breathtaking depth of expression.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008P76VXU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,918 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 97 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 5, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
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.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jura Litchfield on October 24, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.

Highly recommended.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gerhard P. Knapp on January 28, 2011
Format: DVD
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.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A. Lupu VINE VOICE on October 3, 2012
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
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.
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