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Wagner: Overtures & Preludes

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 29, 1992
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Adrian Boult
  • Composer: Richard Wagner
  • Audio CD (September 29, 1992)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000002S08
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,406 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Does Sir Adrian Boult conjure up of images of Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughn Williams, but not Wagner? You're not alone! Nevertheless, this is a double CD set not to be missed! Many years ago, I was listening to a classical radio music station in NYC that was playing the music of Wagner. The performance was so good, that I wouldn't leave the radio until I found out the name of the conductor. When the announcer said the conductor was Sir Adrian Boult, I was quite surprised. I had recordings of English music from Sir Adrian on Angel/EMI, but I never associated that conductor with Wagner. Having been blessed with a friend who had knowledge of classical music way beyond his years, I gave him a call to find out more about the recording. He told me that, Boult had solid expertise in the area of Germanic music, but, in England, had been overshadowed in that repertoire by Otto Klemperer. He told me not to be surprised about Boult's very fine Wagner, it was an excellent recording to purchase and, indeed, search out Sir Adrian's wonderful performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (now available on Vanguard). Fast-forward many years and I find myself browsing through Amazon for a recording of Wagner's Overtures and Preludes. Like everyone else I know, I foolishly jettisoned my LPs in the 1990s and have been "back-filling" ever since. Well, I was able to obtain this splendid set for less than $7 per CD! There are a total of 18 selections covering most of Wagner's operas including five excerpts from the Ring Cycle. The performances are excellent coming from no less than three British orchestras, and the sound is top-shelf EMI. Sir Adrian's pacing is measured and his vision is broad and sensitive, highlighting the beauty and grandeur --rather than just the fire-- of this glorious music. I heartily recommend this two-CD set, and at this price, I think it's a steal.
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Format: Audio CD
As a child, this set was my first experience of Wagner's music, and it made quite an impression on me. However, as I grew older and began to collect the full operas I felt I could surely do better than Adrian Boult and the British for a collection of the preludes, overtures, and orchestral music from the operas. I was wrong. I have yet to here any recordings that can match the power and intensity as demonstrated in these discs from Boult and the LSO (and LPO). The Meistersinger prelude alone is worth the price, and the only version of the prelude to Tristan which outdoes the one here is Bohm's live 1966 Tristan. The Solti, Karajan, and Klemperer highlight discs have their moments (and truthfully, I do prefer Solti and Karajan for the "Ring" highlights), but their contributions are greatest in the full operas, and overall, they simply can't muster the power and intensity that Boult brings to these preludes, overtures, etc.

Even if you have other compilations of Wagner's music in "bleeding chunks", I can assure you they don't come close to this one; and with two discs (the second containing mostly music from Parsifal and the "Ring") at 14 bucks, there is absolutely no excuse not to have this essential recording. So go ahead and buy this disc, never buy another Wagner compilation again, and with the money you save get started on the more important task at hand: the full operas.
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Format: Audio CD
Sir Adrian Boult is best known for his recordings of the British repertoire, and his performances, particularly of Holst's "The Planets" and Elgar's Symphonies and Orchestral Works, are legendary. But Boult was also an excellent conductor of Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner, and this 2-CD set collects the Overtures and Preludes of the latter German titan. These stereo recordings from the early to mid-1970s with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, and London Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras are truly first rate. EMI's set compares nicely in terms of price, quality and musical offerings with competing sets by DG (Bohm, Kubelik, et al) and Sony (Ormandy & Szell). You might have reservations about getting German music conducted by a Brit, but you really can't go wrong with Boult.
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Format: Audio CD
Let me begin with the good things about this box. The Mastersinger Overture could well be the finest ever: it is grand, brilliant, strongly driven and faultlessly played. Splendid recording, too. The Prelude from Act 3 is also very fine, beautifully caressed with mellifluous basses and bronze horns. After this, the rest goes all the way downhill. The Tannhäuser piece are good routine conducting; they stand up reasonable well, but not so the Dutchman Overture, which really needs to be pushed to make an impact. Here it is so sedate you would be excused to go to sleep. Come to the "subtle" scores,like Lohengrin and Tristan and the disappointment grows. Boult doesn't seem to know (any more?) what the word "subtle" means. Lohengrin is discharged at high speed and played perfunctorily, like an everyday concert rendition; while the Tristan, well played as it is, lacks not only the passion, but even just a decent stirring of life.
With the Parsifal excerpts we go up a little, obviously this music suited Boult much better at his age. But I cannot close my ears to the fact that there are quite a few superior versions around. And on to the Nibelungen chunk. I'm afraid those tracks are killed off totally by lack of interest (he must have played those a thousand times), they sound tired and therefore tiresome and tiring.
A nice testimonial to one of the better conductors of his time, but this work is not representative of his best - always excepting the Mastersingers.The recording is good average quality.
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