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What's your favorite Der Ring des Nibelungen?

  • Barenboim: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1991 live recording)

    Votes: 5 5.8%
  • Böhm: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1966/67 live recording)

    Votes: 6 7.0%
  • Boulez: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1980 live recording)

    Votes: 2 2.3%
  • Furtwängler: Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra Rome, Italian Radio Chorus Rome (1953 live recording)

    Votes: 2 2.3%
  • Furtwängler: Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra & Chorus (1950 live recording)

    Votes: 4 4.7%
  • Goodall: Sadlers Wells Opera Orchestra, English National Opera Chorus (in English)

    Votes: 3 3.5%
  • Haitink: Bavarian Radio Chorus, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Janowski: Staatskapelle Dresden, Dresden State Opera Chorus

    Votes: 2 2.3%
  • Karajan: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus

    Votes: 8 9.3%
  • Keilberth: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1955 live recording)

    Votes: 14 16.3%
  • Knappertsbusch: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1956 live recording)

    Votes: 4 4.7%
  • Krauss: Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra (1953 live recording)

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • Levine: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus

    Votes: 1 1.2%
  • Solti: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna State Opera Chorus

    Votes: 30 34.9%
  • Other

    Votes: 4 4.7%
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Which singers do you think leave a lot to be desired?
Almost all of them. I've never been a fan of London's rather throaty, often out-of-tune singing, and Flagstad sounds matronly - she and Wotan are supposed to be young in Rheingold. Svanholm's dry voice is also not to my taste in this role, and the two giants are no match for those on other recordings. Waechter's a great Donner, though.

Back in the LP days, when there were only two Rings available, I definitely preferred Solti's cast to Karajan's, which in my judgment better deserves your criticism.
I much prefer Karajan's cast. Fischer-Dieskau is admittedly a liability much of the time, but as I note above, I don't like London any better. Stolze's light and flexible voice is better suited to Loge's part than Svanholm's. Kelemen is very different from Neidlinger, but he fits well with Karajan's lighter textures. And Karajan's Rhinemaidens, Mime, and giants are vastly superior to Solti's.
 

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Almost all of them. I've never been a fan of London's rather throaty, often out-of-tune singing, and Flagstad sounds matronly - she and Wotan are supposed to be young in Rheingold. Svanholm's dry voice is also not to my taste in this role, and the two giants are no match for those on other recordings. Waechter's a great Donner, though.

I much prefer Karajan's cast. Fischer-Dieskau is admittedly a liability much of the time, but as I note above, I don't like London any better. Stolze's light and flexible voice is better suited to Loge's part than Svanholm's. Kelemen is very different from Neidlinger, but he fits well with Karajan's lighter textures. And Karajan's Rhinemaidens, Mime, and giants are vastly superior to Solti's.
Matters of taste, I guess. DFD and Stolze just rule out the recording completely for me, the former mannered from the very beginning and vocally totally wrong, and the latter intolerable in anything but extreme character parts (I can accept him as Mime, just). I don't like Karajan either. I was checking out the Donner thunderstorm, and Karajan's conducting of it has no internal energy; it just sits there, careful, controlled and static. I find Karajan's stereo Wagner recordings often self-conscious and calculated - cultivated, sensuous sounds that seem more a facsimile of music than the real thing, rather like airbrushed photographs.
 

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Almost all of them. I've never been a fan of London's rather throaty, often out-of-tune singing, and Flagstad sounds matronly - she and Wotan are supposed to be young in Rheingold. Svanholm's dry voice is also not to my taste in this role, and the two giants are no match for those on other recordings. Waechter's a great Donner, though.

I much prefer Karajan's cast. Fischer-Dieskau is admittedly a liability much of the time, but as I note above, I don't like London any better. Stolze's light and flexible voice is better suited to Loge's part than Svanholm's. Kelemen is very different from Neidlinger, but he fits well with Karajan's lighter textures. And Karajan's Rhinemaidens, Mime, and giants are vastly superior to Solti's.
It is interesting that the time of the Solti was made EMI brought out a disc of excerpts og Rheingold under Kempe which was very well received, It off at the far more lyrical approach probably far more in the HvK mould. One sometimes wonders whether it was intended to be a ring which never happened.

Apart from the casts , I do much prefer Karajan's conducting to Solti's in the Ring, I know Many find Solti tremendously exciting (which he has is) but Karajan's approach seems to bring out the more lyrical side of Wagner. Of course it's all a matter of preferences but that is mine
 

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And not beautiful? Interesting!
I have not said that Wagner's music isn't or shouldn't be beautiful. I don't think it is supposed to be anything other than what Wagner wrote (although that's not a straightforward matter as he sanctioned cuts and there are different versions of his works). If a particular individual finds some or all of his music 'beautiful' that's another issue entirely.

Personally I find Karajan's act one of Walkure rather ugly due to the disfiguring way that the music proceeds in little cells of sound in his version. Even if I did think it is supposed to be beautiful, Karajan doesn't make it beautiful for me. So it's a rather useless consideration, the one of beauty.

Is the music written in connection with Hagen beautiful? Is it supposed to be?

N.
 

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It is interesting that the time of the Solti was made EMI brought out a disc of excerpts og Rheingold under Kempe which was very well received, It off at the far more lyrical approach probably far more in the HvK mould. One sometimes wonders whether it was intended to be a ring which never happened.

Apart from the casts , I do much prefer Karajan's conducting to Solti's in the Ring, I know Many find Solti tremendously exciting (which he has is) but Karajan's approach seems to bring out the more lyrical side of Wagner. Of course it's all a matter of preferences but that is mine
The Ring is so long it's difficult to compare one conductor's 14 hours with another's. (Both in terms of the practicalities of listening to that much music and comparing, but also because there are places in all the most famous Ring recordings where one segment is better than on another. Karajan was at his best when he was setting tempi on the speedy side and concentrating on the drama of an opera. The Bohm recording sounds more like classic Karajan than Herbie's! (Especially since I've always thought of Bohm as a slow conductor.)

The Karajan set is very unevenly cast and somehow doesn't sound as good as the Decca that was made earlier, so even if the conducting were as good as Bohm's it still wouldn't be a front runner IMO.

N.
 

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I find Karajan's stereo Wagner recordings often self-conscious and calculated - cultivated, sensuous sounds that seem more a facsimile of music than the real thing, rather like airbrushed photographs.
Interesting comparison, and there's a parallel with HvK's video productions, where - barring the odd key passage where an orchestral section/soloist is spotlighted - the musicians are invariably in soft-focus.

Not that I'm complaining, as I rather like the "Karajan sound" - even in Wagner, where the smooth orchestral texture reminds me a little of the acoustics of Bayreuth.
 

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The Karajan set is very unevenly cast
Jess Thomas as Siegfried is the oddest casting decision of all. His pure, almost "churchy" tone, which works beautifully in Lohengrin and Parsifal, is rather at odds with the cocky, impetuous character he's playing here. It's certainly an interesting experiment, and it by no means ruins the recording, but it's never worked for me.
 

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Almost all of them. I've never been a fan of London's rather throaty, often out-of-tune singing, and Flagstad sounds matronly - she and Wotan are supposed to be young in Rheingold. Svanholm's dry voice is also not to my taste in this role, and the two giants are no match for those on other recordings. Waechter's a great Donner, though.
Matters of taste, I guess. DFD and Stolze just rule out the recording completely for me, the former mannered from the very beginning and vocally totally wrong, and the latter intolerable in anything but extreme character parts (I can accept him as Mime, just). I don't like Karajan either. I was checking out the Donner thunderstorm, and Karajan's conducting of it has no internal energy; it just sits there, careful, controlled and static. I find Karajan's stereo Wagner recordings often self-conscious and calculated - cultivated, sensuous sounds that seem more a facsimile of music than the real thing, rather like airbrushed photographs.
Agree with all these criticisms, which is why the Bohm and the Keilberth Rheingolds are to me the easily preferable stereo choices.
 

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Like many I grew up on the Solti Ring, so it went a long way in shaping my conception of the work. It wasn't until I had access to other recorings that a few shortcomings began to emerge: the overtly flashy and brassy sound, agressive tempi and excessive punctuaction can become a little tiring. I still prefer it to Karajan's account; not only does it have the better cast overall but Karajan seems more focused on dynamics and orchestral effects than with any real connection to the drama and text.

These days my preferred recordings to Solti are the Keilberth stereo and Böhm where which we get to hear Hotter, Neidlinger and Greindl in top form in the former, and Nilsson with an even more vivid performance in the latter, and in both cases in more theatrical and fluid settings. Plus I really like Astrid Varnay. Some technical shortcomings aside, her rich tone, fiery upper register and wonderfully evocative characterization makes her Brünnhilde one of my favorites.

That said, I also agree with The Conte's assertation that the conductor is the most important figure in a Wagner opera, which is why Furtwängler as always is essential listening. Especially the La Scala set.
 

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Personally I find Karajan's act one of Walkure rather ugly due to the disfiguring way that the music proceeds in little cells of sound in his version. Even if I did think it is supposed to be beautiful, Karajan doesn't make it beautiful for me. So it's a rather useless consideration, the one of beauty.

Is the music written in connection with Hagen beautiful? Is it supposed to be?

N.
Funny you appear to hear the music totally different to myself. I would have said the strength of Karajan's conducting is what critics have called his 'seamless conducting'. The opposite of what you are saying. 'On one inexhaustible breath' as one has said. I suppose it illustrates how subjective is the way we hear music. Now with Solti I could understand such criticism but not with Karajan.

The criticism that Karajan has 'no internal energy' (peculiar phrase - I know you didn't make it) is unbelievable when you listen to the Walkure with the BPO roaring through the storms and dancing through the fire music. Never mind. Whatever it means, we all have our opinions and are entitled to them!

Yes, I agree Hagen's Watch is not meant to overwhelm us with its beauty but with its menace. It is quite remarkable - it made an impression when I first heard it over 50 years ago on Ludwig's LP with Greindl. But then it's not something I play that often - there are enough unpleasant things in the world without that!
 

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The criticism that Karajan has 'no internal energy' (peculiar phrase - I know you didn't make it) is unbelievable when you listen to the Walkure with the BPO roaring through the storms and dancing through the fire music.
I wasn't making such a generalization. I was referring to a particular passage, Donner's "Heda, hedo!" The accompaniment there is static and dull. Karajan is variable in this respect; sometimes the focus on sound interferes with music's natural momentum. The artifice can be distracting. It's not the sort of unselfconscious, spontaneous music-making I value.
 

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Voted for Other.

Personally I can listen to a 1st-rate performance in 3rd-rate sound more comfortably than a 3rd-rate performance in 1st-rate sound. My ears gradually habituate to sonic limitations, whereas a little recurrent vocal flaw gradually becomes less acceptable over the length of the Ring, esp. in a major role. Also, as I get older I become less sensitive to nuances of sound but more sensitive to nuances of performance.

For Wotan I really need Schorr; 2nd choice Hotter, but he never had the voice of Schorr, and his acting at vital change-spots (e.g. "Take my oath" in the scene with Fricka) tends to sound contrived & artificial to me, whereas Schorr has the rare gift of being able to make every utterance sound natural & spontaneous. For Siegfried there is of course an even bigger gulf between 1st and 2nd place.

Thus my preferred complete Ring has to be Richard Caniell's Dream Ring on Immortal Performances (true, pieced together by a technician from multiple takes recorded over a period of years... but then so were the Solti & Böhm cycles). If that be considered cheating, then I would choose a close-knit group of Caniell's primary sources: R, Met 1937; W, Met in Boston 1940; S, Met 1937; G, Met 1936.

Anyone who doesn't know it, however, should be warned that this is only an option for someone who is tolerant of historical sound... the sort of person who can listen to Toscanini at Salzburg in 1937 and/or Ellington at Fargo, ND, in 1940 with pleasure.
 

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Solti first and foremost, because I "grew up" with it. When I had great speakers, the Wiener Philharmoniker enveloped the room with unmatched splendor. The Blu-ray Audio edition is quite superb. And I need a goddess or demi-Goddess Brünhilde. So, only Nilsson or Flagstad need apply. Maybe Dernesch. So, secondly Böhm for Nilsson and a fairly unbeatable cast, live. Karajan only for Dernesch. Add Furtwangler /La Scala because of himself and Flagstad live with decent sound (Pristine or Archipel).
 

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Listening to Zagrosek's Ring. Don't know where it goes in my list, but probably somewhere in the favorites. Certainly above Janowski (Dresden), Neuhold, and Swarowsky.

My Favorite Rings
Levine late 1980s DVD sound track (better than the CD set IMO)
Sawallisch 1968 Roma Ring (mono recording)
Sawallisch 1989
Bohm
Barenboim
Zagrosek
Goodall

Others I have:
Simone Young
Krauss
Furtwangler
Solti
Janowski
Neuhold
Swarowsky

Not to demean Furtwangler or Krauss, but the sound quality is just not where I like it.

Coming in the mail:
van Zweden
 

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SixFootScowl - HMM, "sound quality", as if that would diminish the accomplishments of either Krauss, or Furtwangler (esp. the latter). As for WF, if there was EVER a conductor who had such a true/right "grip" on the tempos of the Ring, all the way, straight through, I (for one) would like to know of him. Sure, he didn't have the greatest Ring singers of all (Melchior, Lotte Lehmann, etc.) but he did have the latter-day Kirsten Flagstad, and other, notable others.
 

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SixFootScowl - HMM, "sound quality", as if that would diminish the accomplishments of either Krauss, or Furtwangler (esp. the latter). As for WF, if there was EVER a conductor who had such a true/right "grip" on the tempos of the Ring, all the way, straight through, I (for one) would like to know of him. Sure, he didn't have the greatest Ring singers of all (Melchior, Lotte Lehmann, etc.) but he did have the latter-day Kirsten Flagstad, and other, notable others.
No diminution of their accomplishments. I appreciate that, but it is not something I will listen to much. Perhaps the difference is I am not a connoisseur of opera as much as a consumer. For the older treasures I am not so much into whole operas as I am occasional samplings such as from this fine set:

 
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