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Thread: SchizophRINGia (by Gramophone®)

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    Assistant Administrator Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    Default SchizophRINGia (by Gramophone®)

    A leisurely afternoon in the local book shop gave me the opportunity to peruse the latest issue of "Gramophone." It contained an article assessing the merits of the various Wagner "Ring" cycles. I thought I'd see how their recommendations lined up with other sources, but instead I came away far more interested in how their plaudits corresponded to their previous pronouncements.

    I have a three-year old review book from Gramophone. In it, the Böhm Ring gets the maximum OOO-rating, and the Solti set got a OO... but it was the Solti set that was mentioned in the summing-up "100 great recordings."

    In the latest review book, the Böhm effort was "de-listed," the Keilberth 1955 Ring was given the OOO-rating, and the Solti Ring remained at OO, and also remained on the "100 great recordings" list [Although the Keilberth Walküre appeared on the same list].

    In the magazine article, the Böhm set came in for some stick, the author(s) narrowed it down to a podium of Furtwängler, Klauss, and Keilberth, giving top consideration to Clemens Krauss.

    I thought to myself: there's still time left this year... you can change your mind again before Boxing Day.

    My conclusions: 1) I'm disinclined to think that Krauss is going to provide such transcendent insights as to overlook the early-50s mono-sound.
    2) My first exposure to both Furtwängler and the Ring was an old LP set of him putting La Scala's company through their paces. It was not a serendipitous nexus in space-time. I would overcome my puzzled initial impressions of both music and music-leader, eventually... but the meeting reminded me of what a prominent Philadelphia sports-talk personality said about women's basketball... "I like women... and I like basketball, but that doesn't mean I like women's basketball."
    3) Based on my recent samplings, I feel that the Keilberth 1955 is all that(!) The previous merit of those 50's "historical" sets was to hear the singers... and to hear the singers in proto-stereo at Bayreuth under cohesive leadership puts the remaining "historical" and "live" efforts in the shade. Prices are (finally) coming down on these sets, too! A person could easily "live" with this as a first choice.
    4) There are reasons why the Solti Ring remains the best-selling opera set of all time. Broad, reasonably continuous "takes" means that the traditional bugaboo of studio recording- loss of (perceived) "immediacy" and "drama" are really non-factors. Studio whiz John Culshaw gave of his best in his capture of the sounds of the drama. Solti (and Culshaw) rules, okay?!
    The hardest knife ill us'd doth lose his edge. Shakespeare- Sonnet 95

  2. #2
    Senior Member nefigah's Avatar
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    Rise, post, rise from your slumber!

    Thank you, this is quite helpful as I ponder purchasing a proper performance.

    It's interesting that no one has managed to do a better version of the Ring in almost half a century...

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