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

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    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.
    Solti is my number 1, followed by Keilberth and Karajn. It's a shame the OP received such poor advice. The best advice would have been to tell the OP to just purchase the Solti. I know he/she didn't want to double up but there is not one single element of the Barenboim Ring that is on par with the Solti Ring. Not one single element.
    Last edited by gellio; Nov-08-2015 at 22:42.

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    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gellio View Post
    Solti is my number 1, followed by Keilberth and Karajn. It's a shame the OP received such poor advice. The best advice would have been to tell the OP to just purchase the Solti. I know he/she didn't want to double up but there is not one single element of the Barenboim Ring that is on par with the Solti Ring. Not one single element.
    I try to warn everyone away from the Solti. I find his Ring (and many of his other recordings) bombastic and episodic, and I only started loving the Ring when I started listening to recordings other than Solti's, and discovered that Wagner's music didn't have to sound bombastic and episodic. I don't love the Barenboim but I prefer most cycles over Solti's.

    My top pick is Furtwangler's Scala recording in the Pristine remaster. But that's pretty pricey and still pretty rough sounding despite the remastering so I generally recommend the Bohm, which is my second favorite. I agree with you that Adam is a bit of a weak link in the cast but I find the overall cast so excellent otherwise that I still consider it one of the best casts outside the Solti. You seem to hate him more than I do--I think his voice a bit too small, not quite dark enough, and a little dry, but I think he delivers a committed, vivid performance with the tools he has.

    Karajan is an interesting one. I find his cycle uniquely beautiful but also uniquely inert at times, and the overall approach strikes me as an attempt to make Wagner for people who don't like Wagner. As such, I might recommend this to someone who says they love other operas but not Wagner after trying to listen to a bunch of other Wagner recordings, but not to someone who's just new to Wagner.

    I like the Keilberth quite a lot but I think Nilsson over Varnay (or Modl for the second performances) is a much bigger gap than the Hotter over Adam gap, and I consider the Brunnhilde casting to be more important than the Wotan. Keilberth is dramatic and intense but Bohm is the *most* dramatic and intense and taut. Even if the Keilberth didn't cost 5 or 6 times as much, I'd still easily recommend the Bohm over the Keilberth.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Nov-09-2015 at 08:59.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    OP said she wants excellent sound.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    OP said she wants excellent sound.
    And that's exactly what it is.
    Also most recommend

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pugg View Post
    And that's exactly what it is.
    Also most recommend
    What is?.......................
    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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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Just listening to the funeral march from Gotterdamerung - Karajan and the BPO for sure!

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Just listening to the funeral march from Gotterdamerung - Karajan and the BPO for sure!
    To glitzy for my taste.
    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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    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Just listening to the funeral march from Gotterdamerung - Karajan and the BPO for sure!
    That passage is truly excellent, and Karajan really gets it right. Unlike some who completely miss the point and make it too triumphal (Solti for instance), Karajan realizes this is the death music and musically portrays the victory of the Death motif.

    In general, that cycle is at its best in the orchestral interludes and in the biggest sung solo set pieces but is most underdramatized in the long interludes with sung dialogue--between Fricka and Wotan or between Brunnhilde and Siegmund in the Announcement of Death.

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    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    So I have the Barenboim and I'm really enjoying it. (Well beginning of Siegfried isn't great). But I still think Karajan is on my Christmas wish list

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    I found this interesting. Lines up pretty well with my opinion, certainly as far as the conducting goes.

    http://alexander-arsov.blogspot.co.u...review-of.html

    Just listened to the finale of Gotterdamerung again with Karajan. Fantastic sound from BPO with Denersch singing like an angel.
    Last edited by DavidA; Nov-09-2015 at 22:05.

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    I found this interesting. Lines up pretty well with my opinion, certainly as far as the conducting goes.

    http://alexander-arsov.blogspot.co.u...review-of.html

    Just listened to the finale of Gotterdamerung again with Karajan. Fantastic sound from BPO with Denersch singing like an angel.
    Some of that article impressions I must take exception to:

    1955 live recording from Bayreuth with Keilberth and recorded in fantastic early stereo by DECCA. It is not much better; the voice is fresher for sure, but the rendition is just as messy and can hardly be described as anything more than acceptable

    Hans Hotter 55 wotan performance only "acceptable" give me a break, I have not heard anything since then to equal let alone surpass it! I guess everyone has an opinion.......the later Solti performance by Hotter is NOT the same as the truly great 55 wotan with Keilberth
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Nov-09-2015 at 22:36.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I love Hotter in both recordings.
    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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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I do think Karajan's "Heda Hedo" scene is the best. Just the right tempo imo.

    But don't care for his Gods entering Valhalla. to much
    of Karajan soup/mush.
    Last edited by Itullian; Nov-09-2015 at 22:41.
    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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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    Some of that article impressions I must take exception to:

    1955 live recording from Bayreuth with Keilberth and recorded in fantastic early stereo by DECCA. It is not much better; the voice is fresher for sure, but the rendition is just as messy and can hardly be described as anything more than acceptable

    Hans Hotter 55 wotan performance only "acceptable" give me a break, I have not heard anything since then to equal let alone surpass it! I guess everyone has an opinion.......the later Solti performance by Hotter is NOT the same as the truly great 55 wotan with Keilberth
    Interesting how opinion can differ. I have Hotter on the Krauss version and it is a superb performance imo. Of course I don't know German so I'm not about to question his diction. I am also greatly taken with the live Pizarro he recorded with Klemperer. However, he could be a variable singer (he suffered from asthma which could affect him on a bad day) especially later on. The Solti Siegfried Act 1 catches him ob a bad period and makes painful listenng especially with Stoltze hamming Mime to death. By Act 3 he is vastly improved. Sadly by the time he recorded Walkure the voice was shot, at least as far as Wotan was concerned. Despite the sentimental plaudits heaped on it by some critics it is a trial to listen to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    Some of that article impressions I must take exception to:

    1955 live recording from Bayreuth with Keilberth and recorded in fantastic early stereo by DECCA. It is not much better; the voice is fresher for sure, but the rendition is just as messy and can hardly be described as anything more than acceptable

    Hans Hotter 55 wotan performance only "acceptable" give me a break, I have not heard anything since then to equal let alone surpass it! I guess everyone has an opinion.......the later Solti performance by Hotter is NOT the same as the truly great 55 wotan with Keilberth
    Heh, yeah, that's absurd. Hotter's performances from the 50s are just completely unmatched. And he highly praises one of the worse Wotan's I've heard, Fischer-Dieskau, who makes Wotan sound alternately like a fussy bureaucrat or a rich merchant. And Stolze is better than Svanholm, ok fella.

    I do agree that Karajan's cycle is better than the Solti, but the reason he praises it--it makes for a great highlights disc!--is exactly what I think is kind of problematic about it--the stuff in between the highlights is pretty but often lacking in tension and drama.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Nov-09-2015 at 23:05.

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