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

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    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    Default Ring cycle : Barenboim vs. Levine vs. Karajan oh my!

    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!!

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    Senior Member Faustian's Avatar
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    If you don't want to go with the '55 Keilberth, my all around favorite in terms of sound and performance, my pick from those choices would be the Barenboim, which has a fine cast and great sound with stunning depth and fullness. However if you are looking for beauty, Karajan's set might be your best option, just for the gorgeous orchestral sound he achieves and the magnificent playing of the Berlin Philharmonic. But because of some cast weaknesses and inconsistencies in all of the major roles, it wouldn't be a first choice for me at least.

    Given your criteria, might I suggest the Janowski studio Ring? It might not quite match Karajan for sheer beauty, but it features great sound and great playing from the Dresden Staatskapelle in its own right, a consistent cast, and clear, lively conducting by Janowski which some deem "cold" but I find to be illuminating in many passages. A great recording to really be able to follow along with all of the leitmotifs. And its very cheap; you can get it for under $30:


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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    The Karajan is reasonable if bought separately and generally used smaller voices.
    The Barenboim is amazing digital sound and excellent singing.

    Do you mean you want a one box Ring?
    I'm a bit confused,
    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

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    Sorry for the confusion! I'm not 100% sure what I am looking for! I am a very impulsive buyer.
    Leaning towards one box, but not ruling out the idea of buying a few individual operas seperately.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    What do you mean, you don't like repeat copies?

    What do you have? And what that you've heard have you liked?
    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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    What do you mean, you don't like repeat copies?

    What do you have? And what that you've heard have you liked?
    I have Solti's Rheingold on MP3, which I do like

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonata View Post
    I have Solti's Rheingold on MP3, which I do like
    And Gergiev and Haitink?
    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

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    Yes, MP3 except for Haitink Siegfried. I'd like to have physical copies of all 4 ring operas. Hope that clarifies

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Gotcha ..........................
    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

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    Senior Member Sonata's Avatar
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    Drat...unexpected bills. Oh well Christmas is just a few months away!

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Karajan, very pretty, light voices, good sound
    Solti, more aggressive, bigger voices, better sound with new remaster
    Barenboim, a little of both, fantastic digital 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

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Hard to beat at 35.00

    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

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    It has to be Barenboim out of those choices. Levine is ok, but there isn't a sense of a unified structure of the cycle as a whole, each opera and each act of each opera.

    Von Karajan's is a beautiful reading as others have said, but I feel it lacks drama.

    I think overall Barenboim has the better singers, he manages to make the whole cycle seem like a single phrase, whilst also bringing more passionate drama and excitement to the music. The transitions from scene to scene are seamless and he gets the most out of singers, some of whom I'm not particularly fond of elsewhere.

    Perhaps if you tell us which is your favourite Wagner recording we can advise on which of those cycles will probably appeal to you best.

    N.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    Hard to beat at 35.00

    True, but Sonata would like to know which of the following cycles is the best:

    1) Levine
    2) von Karajan
    3) Barenboim

    N.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Levine is out in my opinion.

    It's Karajan or Barenboim then.
    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

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