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Thread: Ring cycle : Barenboim vs. Levine vs. Karajan oh my!

  1. #31
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orfeo View Post
    Barenboim: great singing, great orchestra, great sound and overall presentation, very nice dramatic flow.
    Levine (DVD/DG): close in contention with Barenboim, though not as erratic as Barenboim is in places. Love Siegfried Jerusalem, Hildegard Behrens, Jessie Norman, James Morris, et al. A very nice German tradition performance-wise. His audio recordings of the Ring pale in comparison: too light and not as convincing as that 1989 MET production.
    Karajan: Nice clarity in the orchestral response, but why the different singers playing the particular roles. Annoying and perplexing.

    So it's Barenboim all the way.


    Agree....................
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

    "Man does not live by bread alone......"

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  3. #32
    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    Yup put in my order at Presto Classical for Barenboim. Can't wait!!!

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  5. #33
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    The problem with Bohm is not the speed as Krauss was also swift. The problem is the lack of light and shade. This may be partly due to the recording which is not one of Bayreuth's best.
    Yes, clearly the recording quality of Bohm's 1967 cycle is far worse than the Krauss 1953 cycle

    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    I went ahead and ordered Barenboim yesterday!! There was a good sale on opera at Presto Classical and I got it for 43 dollars including shopping.

    I am very excited to have a complete set on the way. I finally "get" Wagner. The good news: all sorts of Ring cycles on Amazon music so I'll definitely get a taste of other versions too.

    I'd like Karajan but decided I can't justify the price right now....I might buy it one at a time later on if I decide I need more!
    A fine choice--I did recommend Karajan over the Barenboim but in some ways, I think Barenboim is a more solid bet. I feel Karajan has some of the higher highs but some of the lower lows than many other Ring cycles, and opinions to his cycle are less predictable than with others. A good segment of listeners love it and consider it one of the best, but another good segment don't care for it at all and consider the money poorly spent.

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  7. #34
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    Yup put in my order at Presto Classical for Barenboim. Can't wait!!!
    Yaaaaaaaaaay. And a great price too.
    And spectacular sound too.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

    "Man does not live by bread alone......"

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  9. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    Yup put in my order at Presto Classical for Barenboim. Can't wait!!!
    I have a feeling you won't be disappointed!

    N.

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  11. #36
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    Yes, clearly the recording quality of Bohm's 1967 cycle is far worse than the Krauss 1953 cycle



    A fine choice--I did recommend Karajan over the Barenboim but in some ways, I think Barenboim is a more solid bet. I feel Karajan has some of the higher highs but some of the lower lows than many other Ring cycles, and opinions to his cycle are less predictable than with others. A good segment of listeners love it and consider it one of the best, but another good segment don't care for it at all and consider the money poorly spent.
    It must be noted that when Karajan recorded his cycle he was trying to look at Wagner in a different way, to make it more human. I just happen to like that different, more lyrical way, it almost makes me lve the music rather than just admiring it.

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  13. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    So I have available Solti's Rheingold and Götterdämmerung already available, and don't like repeat copies....hence looking elsewhere for a full Ring. I should wait and research and sample. But history suggests that I may buy a Ring Cycle within a week! These three appeal. I value sheer beauty above other qualities and in my readings I understand Levine and Karajan are quite beautiful. I've heard good stuff about Barenboim, and Bohm isn't ruled out either but I understand he goes fast! Karajan is expensive but the other options can be had for about 40 bucks.

    Help!!! I never thought I'd be Ring obsessed!!
    Bummer I missed this. I think you are really missing something without Solti's Siegfried. It is the best of his cycle IMO. Would have been worth it to get his whole cycle over Barenboim, IMO. As others have said, there are merits to the Barenboim Ring, but as a whole, the singers aren't up to the level Solti, Karajan, Keilberth (1955), and Bohm.

    I would suggest you check out your local library. They may have copies of different Ring's that you can borrow and rip to your iPod (or whatever you use).

    Also, check out YouTube. Lots of goodies on there that can easily be converted to mp3. Solti's '83 Bayreuth is on there and the sound is great, although ripping it creates a single track for each opera.

    I started with the Solti Ring, merely out of curiosity, 15 years ago, and now I have over 20 Ring recordings, LOL. Talk about an obsession, but I love it.

    Welcome to The Ring - it's an amazing place to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    It must be noted that when Karajan recorded his cycle he was trying to look at Wagner in a different way, to make it more human. I just happen to like that different, more lyrical way, it almost makes me lve the music rather than just admiring it.
    I agree. I could not live without Solti, Karajan and Keilberth (55). They are all amazing in there own way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    Levine is out in my opinion.

    It's Karajan or Barenboim then.
    I prefer the Levine over the Barenboim. Norman is amazing, and Morris is simply to die for. His final passages in Walkure are worth it alone. Levine's Rheingold is also quite good. Not a huge fan of Behrens but she's better than Evans (under Barenboim), IMO. I think Levine has the better cast of the two.

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    Quote Originally Posted by howlingfantods View Post
    With just those three as options, I'd get the Karajan, Barenboim, Levine in that order.

    But I'd pick the Bohm over all three by a pretty significant margin. You're right that Bohm has the reputation as a speed merchant, but I wonder how valid that reputation is now that Wagner fandom has had a while to absorb performance practice at Bayreuth in the classic post-war period where everyone other than Knappertsbusch was taking the Ring at similar timpi to Bohm's.

    Those cycles from Krauss and Keilberth and Kempe are great but Bohm has the benefit of the greater Brunnhilde (in my book, the *greatest* Brunnhilde, better than Varnay and Modl by a pretty large margin) at the loss of the greatest Wotan in Hotter, who is uniquely wonderful in the role. I think that's a good tradeoff but I know others disagree. The sound quality is orders of magnitude better in the Bohm than in any of the Bayreuth cycles from the 50s, including the 1955 stereo cycle from Keilberth.
    I quite like Bohm's conducting. I like the faster pace. However, Adam is simply inadequate and the orchestra is a mess.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gellio View Post
    I prefer the Levine over the Barenboim. Norman is amazing, and Morris is simply to die for. His final passages in Walkure are worth it alone. Levine's Rheingold is also quite good. Not a huge fan of Behrens but she's better than Evans (under Barenboim), IMO. I think Levine has the better cast of the two.
    Hear hear

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  20. #42
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    I need to give a shout out to my favorite Brunnhilde - Crespin under Karajan (Walkure only). She is a revelation, IMO.

  21. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by gellio View Post
    I need to give a shout out to my favorite Brunnhilde - Crespin under Karajan (Walkure only). She is a revelation, IMO.
    Yes I would add my voice to that. Pity she felt unable to tackle the other two operas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Yes I would add my voice to that. Pity she felt unable to tackle the other two operas.
    Yes, exactly. She is really something special in Walkure. I heard she was fearful of the high notes in the Hojotoho's and they tricked her in to thinking it was just a practice take, so she relaxed, and was able to hit the notes. Really something. The whole Karajan Ring is. Solti was my first, and will always remain my favorite (I imagine), but I'm sad to say I avoided the Karajan Ring for YEARS because of that stupid "chamber approach" label that was put to it. It's hard to believe something invented by obviously mentally deficient critics managed to take flight.

    I hardly listen to the Barenboim. The cast is just OK to me, and it certainly doesn't provide a very compelling Wotan, Brunnhilde or Siegfried, which are perhaps the three most important roles. Hotter takes a lot of flack for his Walkure Wotan under Solti, but as past his prime as he may have been, he is still better than most Wotan's on record, including Barenboim's. Evans just can't reach the heights in vocal quality or characterization achieved by Varnay, Nilsson, Dernesch, or Crespin. Jerusalem is fine as Siegfried, but is simply outmatched by Windgassen (Bohm, Solti and Keilberth). Barenboim's Ring is in great sound, and packs a punch, but it's difficult to return to something that doesn't move you dramatically. Janowski has great sound, but gets boring throughout, and Altemeyer's Brunnhilde is just insufficient, although not as big of a failure as Marton under Haitink, but the biggest failure has to be Mellor in the Seattle Ring. The last note of Siegfried - wow - the single most awful thing I have ever heard on disc. The mess that is the Bayreuth orchestra under Bohm, and his pathetic Wotan take that out of the running for me, although I do return to it time to time for Bohm's conducting, which I love and admire.

    All in all, I think the best bets are Solti, Karajan and Keilberth (55).
    Last edited by gellio; Nov-08-2015 at 17:33.

  23. #45
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gellio View Post
    Yes, exactly. She is really something special in Walkure. I heard she was fearful of the high notes in the Hojotoho's and they tricked her in to thinking it was just a practice take, so she relaxed, and was able to hit the notes. Really something. The whole Karajan Ring is. Solti was my first, and will always remain my favorite (I imagine), but I'm sad to say I avoided the Karajan Ring for YEARS because of that stupid "chamber approach" label that was put to it. It's hard to believe something invented by obviously mentally deficient critics managed to take flight.

    I hardly listen to the Barenboim. The cast is just OK to me, and it certainly doesn't provide a very compelling Wotan, Brunnhilde or Siegfried, which are perhaps the three most important roles. Hotter takes a lot of flack for his Walkure Wotan under Solti, but as past his prime as he may have been, he is still better than most Wotan's on record, including Barenboim's. Evans just can't reach the heights in vocal quality or characterization achieved by Varnay, Nilsson, Dernesch, or Crespin. Jerusalem is fine as Siegfried, but is simply outmatched by Windgassen (Bohm, Solti and Keilberth). Barenboim's Ring is in great sound, and packs a punch, but it's difficult to return to something that doesn't move you dramatically. Janowski has great sound, but gets boring throughout, and Altemeyer's Brunnhilde is just insufficient, although not as big of a failure as Marton under Haitink, but the biggest failure has to be Mellor in the Seattle Ring. The last note of Siegfried - wow - the single most awful thing I have ever heard on disc. The mess that is the Bayreuth orchestra under Bohm, and his pathetic Wotan take that out of the running for me, although I do return to it time to time for Bohm's conducting, which I love and admire.

    All in all, I think the best bets are Solti, Karajan and Keilberth (55).
    The chamber music label was ridiculous. It implies there was not a full orchestra when it was the mighty BPO in the pit! Karajan's players play what Wagner wrote but with a degree of subtlety seldom matched. This allows voices which one does not normally associate with Wagner to shine through and it has a humanising effect on the Ring. I must confess it comes nearest to making me love the music rather than just admiring it. Of course, I realise this is a personal reaction not shared by others. But I must confess to preferring it to Solti's tub thumping.

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