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Thread: tell me about Solti's recording of Wagner's Ring

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Default tell me about Solti's recording of Wagner's Ring

    Many fine talkclassicalers have selected Solti's recording of Wagner's Ring as the greatest recording of all time (http://www.talkclassical.com/blogs/s...dings-all.html):



    What do you think of that recording? What makes it one of the greatest recordings of all time?
    Last edited by science; Sep-06-2013 at 03:28.
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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Hitherto, all Rings were poor photocopies of live performances, perhaps great performances in themselves, but flawed recordings of an entertainment for those who could not be there live to witness it.

    Solti's Ring however was the first studio Ring. Meticulously engineered, it is not a reproduction of a performance, but a Ring created unto itself, fabricated from the greatest resources at the world's disposal at the time, for the soul purpose of channelling Wagner's music from the score to the ear so that we may experience, understand, and be overwhelmed in the work in its absolute purity.

    Henceforth, the quality if the singing has never been equalled, nor the playing, and the conducting seldom as pure to the music but often idiosyncratic in an attempt to justify its existence beyond the reach of the Solti's long shadow.
    Doch dieses Wörtlein: und, -wär' es zerstört,
    wie anders als mit Isoldes eignem Leben wär' Tristan der Tod gegeben?

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    Senior Member Vesteralen's Avatar
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    Well, I'll tell you a story about it. I can't really tell you about the recording, because I've never heard very much of it myself.

    I had a very good friend who had a progressively worsening disability from the time he was a teenager till he died a few years ago in his sixties. About twenty-five to thirty years ago he was still able to drive his own specially equipped van and go places on his own. He was a season-ticket holder with the local orchestra and many times he took my wife and I to concerts with him.

    We also spent many evenings at his home talking about and listening to our favorite records. He had a passion for opera that we did not share - though we enjoyed the Zefferelli Traviata that he showed us one evening on his TV. Anyway, for him, the ultimate music was The Ring. One day his brother surprised him with the complete Solti Ring Cycle. It had just come out in its first deluxe complete set packaging (I can't remember now if it was on LP or on CD - CDs were brand new at the time, if I recall.)

    He played me short excerpts from it, but I wasn't interested in Wagner except for the instrumental parts, so it never meant much to me. But, when I think of The Solti Ring, I always think of him, and for that reason alone it is a special recording for me.

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    Senior Member Pip's Avatar
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    It was, and still is the engineering recording of the century. There are a few problems which come from the fact that it took almost 10 years from start to finish, the main problems being - casting.
    The Rheingold is the best of it - a miracle recording for 1958 and the ideas was to use George London as Wotan for the cycle.
    The plan was to record the cycle in sequence, with Walküre next, but RCA jumped in with their own, using London ,Nilsson, and Vickers. The decca was put on hold,(not to be done until 1965-66) and they finally got going again with Siegfried. Unfortunately,
    London was beginning to show signs of decline that would ultimately finish his career by 1966 at age 45.
    So Hotter was chosen and although his best Wotan days were behind him, the Wanderer was not a difficult role for him.
    So, Siegfried was a grand success.
    Götterdämmerung was also a great feat of engineering and a great insight into this recording can be gained by watching the DVD of the "Golden Ring" -
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Golden-Ring-...he+golden+ring
    71pH8MPLsRL._SL1101_.jpg
    Then finally came Walküre and unfortunately they remained with Hotter, who was no longer so able to sustain the voice in what is the most difficult of the three.
    Also the planned Siegmund was also to have been Jon Vickers, but due to a bust-up with Solti at covent Garden in 1961, he refused ever to work with Solti again. So James King was drafted in (no mean second choice) and the Walküre can out in 1966 to decidedly mixed revues.
    The other great problem is that this is not totally Solti's view of the Ring - It is Culshaw's!
    Culshaw hated anything to do with recording live performances and stamped his own personality all over this cycle.
    For a small example - the DVD has a section where Culshaw is almost bullying Solti to change his tempi for the funeral march.
    Solti had, by this time already conducted almost the same cast in Götterdämmerung at Covent Garden in 1963, and had just finished the 1965 complete Ring also at CG.

    So my problem with this Decca Ring is that it is more Culshaw's design an not Solti's. Check out the 1983 Solti Ring at Bayreuth on youtube for a representation of how Solti saw the Ring. For those of us lucky enough to have tapes of the CG 1965 Ring, we know the truth of it.
    So to sum up. Rheingold is magnificent 11 out of 10 - it's that good.
    Siegfried is almost as good 8.5 out of 10
    Götterdämmerung is another 8.5 out of 10
    Walküre is poor by comparison - I would only give it a 5.5 out of 10.
    I also feel that the engineering was less great with Walküre as with the rest.
    I have the Rheingold but have long since dispensed with the rest.
    There are greater Ring cycles out there.
    The DVD is magnificent or sample it first on YouTube. There are many bits of it (Golden Ring Solti)

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Thanks guys!

    (252525)
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    There is no such thing as the "greatest recording of all time, but the Solti Ring is certainly ONE
    of the greatest . Not all critics like Solti's conducting in it, in fact, some positively loathe it .
    But I've always been a confirmed Solti fan , and I most certainly do love his conducting there,
    and on his other Wagner complete sets. Solti was the first conductor to record all ten of Wagner's canonical
    operas .
    The cast has never been surpassed of course, However, there is also much to admire in the Ring recordings
    of other great Wagnerians such as Karajan, Bohm, Knappertsbusch, Barenboim, Levine etc.
    Solti brings enormous energy and verve to the Ring, a work which can seem turgid and inert at times ,
    unflagging momentum even though the recordings are studio, without neglecting the solemn and tragic
    elements in it, or lacking in tender lyricism . He also brings out the great work's enormous range of
    orchestral color, ranging from the deepest darkness and gloom to the most incandescant brightness .
    and radiance , and the great Vienna Philharmonic covers itself in glory .

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    Have a look at what I posted for "Tell me about Kleiber Beethoven 5&7"!

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    Senior Member SixFootScowl's Avatar
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    Everybody talks about the studio Solti Ring, but what of the live one? Here it is, and the album covers are great!

    EBAY Listing says,

    Wagner's epic DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN in a history-making performance at the 1983 Bayreuth Fesitval. Sir Georg Solti made his only appearance at the Festival leading an all star cast of seasoned Wagner singers incouding Hildegard Behrens as Brünnhilde, Manfred Jung as Siegfried, Jeannine Altmeyer and Siegfried Jerusalem as the twins Sieglinde and Siegmund, Aage Haugland as Hagen, Siegmund Nimsgern as Wotan and Brigitte Fassbaender luxuriously cast as Waltraute. Solti live in the opera pit was a different conductor than Solti in the studio and this performance is certainly worthy to stand alongside his justly famous commercial recording. The beautiful Bayreuth acoustics are an added bonus as are the superb sonics and generous tracking in this mastering. Complete and uncut on 12 CDs.








    This one is tempting, even at the listed price.

    EDIT: I just found a thread on this performance:
    Just downloaded Solti'S '83 Bayreuth Ring
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Feb-28-2017 at 18:20.
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    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    Is it my imagination, or do those 1983 Solti CDs look home-burned?

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    Solti is dumb, Windgassen is boring, and Hotter is old, but it's okay.

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    Solti is "dumb ?" . Windgassen is "boring ""? etc . Sorry . I couldn't disagree with you more . If you want to hear "dumb" conducting , try the live Goodall Ring, originally on EMI but now on Chandos.
    Goodall's conducting 9is so slow, inert and lethargic it its me to sleep better than any pill .
    I've seen giant tree sloths with more energy . It's a live recording of dead performances .

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    Goodall's Ring is wonderful. I like it better than Solti's.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Feb-28-2017 at 21:02.
    “The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent look guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the mind of the masses.”
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    Quote Originally Posted by superhorn View Post
    Solti is "dumb ?" . Windgassen is "boring ""? etc . Sorry . I couldn't disagree with you more . If you want to hear "dumb" conducting , try the live Goodall Ring, originally on EMI but now on Chandos.
    Goodall's conducting 9is so slow, inert and lethargic it its me to sleep better than any pill .
    I've seen giant tree sloths with more energy . It's a live recording of dead performances .
    I agree. I threw out my money with Goodall. Solti is terrific!
    Facts don't care about your feelings.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Solti's Ring was a tremendous pioneering achievement by Culshaw and his team who were miles ahead of the field, apart from perhaps Legge, in recording opera. It is 'Sonicstage' par excellence with tremendous effects. However I find Solti's conducting, for all the excitement, inferior to Karajan's in the cycle. Solti's cast is generally good apart from Hotter in bad voice in Siegfried act 1 and Walkure, Stolze's cackling Mime and King's wooden Siegmund, which is some achievement. A historical achievement but I like Wagner a bit more civilised.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Magnum Miserium View Post
    Solti is dumb, Windgassen is boring, and Hotter is old, but it's okay.
    You statement says a lot but not about Solti.

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