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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rose By Any Other Name..., July 2, 2007
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This review is from: Rhinegold (Audio CD)
The figure of speach may not be completely correct in this instance, but, well, I hope you get the point. In any case, for a Dutch speaking person, like I, to hear 'The Ring' in a language other than the original German feels - almost shockingly(?) - natural. Certainly, this modern English translation, to me, is as least immediate, and probably even more immediate, than the original (archaic) German text. And in music drama, immediacy is essential. Maybe it is also the wonderfully natural translation, I don't know, but it works for me, the Ring in English.
But most of the credit has to go to the music, the singers, and the recording as such. I believe that this (originally analogue) remastered recording has one of the best recorded sounds and acoustics of any Ring, studio or 'live'. It is wonderfully clear but warm, kind of velvety (very unlike Solti), with beautifully natural balaces between voices and orchestra. Audience noises can be heard (including a delightful little ripple of laughter) but never really obtrusively so, thankfully. And I love the thunderclap-sound effect when Donner strikes his hammer against the rocks - very tastefully done, and lending extra power to the scene.
All the time one reads in reviews everywhere of the very slow speads at which the music is conducted by Sir Reginald Goodall. Well, that may be so, but I, for one, am certainly endeared to Sir Reginald Goodalls 'caressing' of the music, as a result of which wich the Leitmotifs come out more clearly than ever. The slow - but nonetheless very concentrated, and always involved - playing has, to me, an almost mesmerizing effect. Certainly, compared to many other recordings, the music may sound stretched almost beyond breaking point. But in the end, I think it is really just that: a matter of speed, no more. The concentration never falters and the dramatic arc never saggs. There is live 'music magic' going on here, I feel, even if the English National Opera Orchestra may not be (as precise or as diciplined as) a Wiener Philharmoniker or a Bayreuther Festspielorchester. Certainly, Sir Reginald Goodall must have loved this music and these opera's: one feels a slowly beating but constant loving pulse that energizes the drama and the music.
But we also have the singers. And what a great singers! While the best may be yet to come (with Alberto Remedios as Siegmund and Siegfried, and Rita Hunter as Brunnhilde), we here, in The Rhinegold, already have one of the most commanding of Wotans (Norman Bailey, with wonderful burnished timbre). Also, Emile Belcourt stands out as a wonderfully sleek but full-voiced Loge. Derek Hammond-Stroud's Alberich may not be as black as Gunther von Kannen's (for Barenboim), for example, but there is enough anguish, frustration and anger to lend his character a convincing reality and depth. And the giants too, are a winning pair. Especially Fafner (Clifford Grant) is as imposing and powerful as one may ever wish.
With all the rave reviews, here and elsewhere I can't wait to hear The Valkyrie, (especially) Siegfried and Twilight of the Gods. This certainly is a winning 'Ring', to be kept alongside any other 'great' recorded 'Ring' out there, IMHO. To me, it can hold its own alongside any other favorite recordings.
Please, sample this Ring (try for example the Chandos website for fragments of all of the music) and decide for yourself. Highly recommended.
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Location: Norway

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