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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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I can appreciate both of those points of view.

To my ears, the standard annual live broadcasts from Bayreuth seem to improve substantially in quality around 1955. When I listen to those done earlier (including Krauss, 1953), I feel a bit as if I'm listening from behind a closed door. Whereas if I listen to, e.g., Knappertsbusch 1956 on Orfeo, or 1957 on Music & Arts, I feel as if I'm hearing something not very different from the studio recordings of the same period (such as those in the beautiful Introuvables box shown above--wow, I believe it's far too long since I took that box down from my shelves). At any rate I no longer feel as if there's a closed door somewhere between me and the music. (Knappertsbusch 1958 doesn't sound quite as good, but I think that's because nobody has yet transferred it direct from original sources--all transfers sound as if they were taken from multi-generation copies.)

But when Furtwängler is conducting on the other side of that door... well, I personally get so involved that I could stand there for hours with my ear pressed to the door listening to him. Something is happening every moment. In fact I can scarcely force myself to leave the room even for a few seconds, for fear of what I'm going to miss while I'm away. Even though I've heard it all before repeatedly. (I have the same problem when listening to his live Beethoven symphonies.)

What a world we live in. There seems to be a Ring on the market to suit every possible taste. I've said elsewhere that, when Philips first issued the Böhm Ring 50 years ago, I thought they were crazy. Two Ring cyles on LP--Solti and Böhm? In a world where no one ever listens to anything more classical than Elvis Presley singing O sole mio with even worse words than the original? Impossible. The market would never support it. No doubt one or two oddballs like myself would buy both, but no way would the second company in the field avoid bankruptcy.

And look at the situation now!
 

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The new Van Zweden Ring is very good, IMO. I also like the Thielemann and the first Levine. Solti was my first Ring and it still holds a high place on my list. Of the historical rings, Knappertsbusch (1956); Clemens Krauss, Kempe, and Keilberth are all among my favorites.

Of the newer ones I've watched, the Hartmut Haenchen conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Dutch National Opera is excellent. I love the staging and costumes, and the singers are very good, IMO.

Others I like are Böhm, Barenboim, Haitink, Günter Neuhold, Boulez, Simone Young, and Zagrosek. (I don't own all of these, I've got 20 Rings in folders on Spotify.)

I vastly prefer watching the operas on DVD but listening is also very rewarding once you've gotten a firm grip on the narrative.

The next Ring I am excited to hear is the Rattle. As far as I can tell only the first two operas have been released.
 

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I fear you might have a bit of a wait for the completed Rattle. Much like the Gergiev.
 
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My favorite Rings are

Sawallisch 1989 (live)
Levine late 80s DVD run as MP3 files (live)
Sawallisch ROMA 1968 (live)--The only historic Ring I like
Janowski's first ring (studio)

I struggle between the 1989 Sawallisch and the Levine DVD soundtrack. I can't decide between the two and I think Behrens does a better Brunnhilde on the Sawallisch than either the DVD or CD Levine sets. I have, but reject the CD Levine set as I am not fond of Goldberg's Siegfried.

My second favorite after those are,

Goodall (live)
Zagrosek (live)
Bohm (is this one live?)
van Zweden (concert performance)

Then there is Swarowsky which is in a category of its own. I think one of the really wonderful parts of Swarowsky is its Brunnhilde.

I won't get into my favorites on DVD but to say The Machine is TOTALLY AWESOME!
 

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My favorite Rings are

Sawallisch 1989 (live)
Levine late 80s DVD run as MP3 files (live)
Sawallisch ROMA 1968 (live)--The only historic Ring I like
Janowski's first ring (studio)

I struggle between the 1989 Sawallisch and the Levine DVD soundtrack. I can't decide between the two and I think Behrens does a better Brunnhilde on the Sawallisch than either the DVD or CD Levine sets. I have, but reject the CD Levine set as I am not fond of Goldberg's Siegfried.

My second favorite after those are,

Goodall (live)
Zagrosek (live)
Bohm (is this one live?)
van Zweden (concert performance)

Then there is Swarowsky which is in a category of its own. I think one of the really wonderful parts of Swarowsky is its Brunnhilde.

I won't get into my favorites on DVD but to say The Machine is TOTALLY AWESOME!
Bohm is live.

No no mention of of Kna, Klei, Kar, Krau?
 
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Apparently my beloved Sawallisch 1968 Roma is live but a concert live performance. Here is a good review that mentions that and is pretty glowing about that ring:
As I wrote in a previous review this is an unknown jewel of a Ring. It was performed as a concert version at the Foro Italico in the spring of 1968 largely with top of the line singers who were unknown in the U.S., but at the peaks of their careers at that time. Eberhard Katz as Siegmund is just about the equal of anyone who assayed that role during the 50s and 60's with the exception of Jon Vickers. He is very impressive, and it is our loss that he never wandered too far from Cologne where he spent most of his career. He had a great career in Germany but was unknown internationally. Basically the same goes for Hildegard Hillebrecht though she did appear briefly at the Met for a few performances and once in Bayreuth. Her Sieglinde is good, but when compared to Hilde Konetzni and Leonie Rysanek she comes up a bit short. Now we come to Nadzeda Kniplova who is a true hochdramatische soprano. She had it all but ambition. Other than a few forays to Vienna, Berlin, Munich and Rome, she was perfectly happy to stay with the Czech National Opera in Prague. Her Brunnhilde here is good -- better in the more forceful moments than the lyrical. All in all though a good performance which leads up to an magnificent immolation scene in Gotterdammerung. Janis Martin again is excellent as Frick and Gerd Nienstedt is typically malevolent as Hunding. Theo Adam to me seems to be growing in his role as Wotan. Perhaps because this is a concert performance, he seems more relaxed and secure without having to worry about the stage action. Whatever the reason, he at last seems to have attained the "gravitas" that Frantz and Hotter achieved when performing the role. Sawallisch leads the RAI orchestra in a brisk, thoughtful performance. Bravo!
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-...ef=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B000BLI5DC
 
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My favourite recording of the cycle is Keilberth's 1952 recording and I'm not really sure why it's not better known. Yes, the casting is not as consistent as with Krauss the following year but to my ears both Varnay and Hotter are noticeably fresher. Im not a big fan of Windgassen outside of his Lohengrin and find Aldenhoff more to my liking in Seigfried. Max Lorenz is unquestionably over the hill vocally but still makes a convincing Siegfried in Gotterdammerung for me. I find Melanie Bugarinovic's Erda to be one of the best Erdas on disk and Treptow as Siegmund is no less an artist than Vinay with Krauss. You also get Inge Borkh as Sieglinde and Freia as well as Martha Modl as Gutrune and the third norn. Hermann Uhde makes a great younger Wotan in Rheingold and there are many similarities in the casting of other roles with later Bayreuth performances. One reason this cycle is maybe less popular is the sound which is not as good as Krauss 53 and Keilberth 55 but I find it more than adequate. Not too dry and perfectly listenable. The conducting is fast and exciting without ever feeling rushed.
 

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My favourite recording of the cycle is Keilberth's 1952 recording and I'm not really sure why it's not better known. Yes, the casting is not as consistent as with Krauss the following year but to my ears both Varnay and Hotter are noticeably fresher. Im not a big fan of Windgassen outside of his Lohengrin and find Aldenhoff more to my liking in Seigfried. Max Lorenz is unquestionably over the hill vocally but still makes a convincing Siegfried in Gotterdammerung for me. I find Melanie Bugarinovic's Erda to be one of the best Erdas on disk and Treptow as Siegmund is no less an artist than Vinay with Krauss. You also get Inge Borkh as Sieglinde and Freia as well as Martha Modl as Gutrune and the third norn. Hermann Uhde makes a great younger Wotan in Rheingold and there are many similarities in the casting of other roles with later Bayreuth performances. One reason this cycle is maybe less popular is the sound which is not as good as Krauss 53 and Keilberth 55 but I find it more than adequate. Not too dry and perfectly listenable. The conducting is fast and exciting without ever feeling rushed.
My favourite Ring is Keilberth 53 as his conducting is more organic than in 55 and other than Modl as Brunhilde instead of Varnay (which is in its favour in my opinion) the casting is the same as the Krauss version from the same year. I haven't explored Keilberth's 52 recording mainly because the cast doesn't interest me as much as the versions with Modl in 53 and 55.

N.
 

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My favourite recording of the cycle is Keilberth's 1952 recording and I'm not really sure why it's not better known.
Probably because people like me don't agree with you about the quality of the tenor singing. To my ears, Aldenhoff is barely tolerable; Treptow and Lorenz are unlistenable. It's a pity that Suthaus didn't sing at Bayreuth that year.
 

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Probably because people like me don't agree with you about the quality of the tenor singing. To my ears, Aldenhoff is barely tolerable; Treptow and Lorenz are unlistenable. It's a pity that Suthaus didn't sing at Bayreuth that year.
I've never understood why some don't like Aldenhoff and Treptow, maybe they're the same people who don't like del Monaco 🤣. Lorenz is understandable as he's far from his prime here.
 

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Has anyone mentioned the Solti 1965 Covent Garden Ring? Die Walküre is on YouTube, but the whole cycle is available on one of the “pirate” labels, such as House Of Opera. The sound is modern, well more modern than some of the Bayreuth ones. The cast is stellar and my own favorite is Ernst Kozub’s Siegmund.

 

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Has anyone mentioned the Solti 1965 Covent Garden Ring? Die Walküre is on YouTube, but the whole cycle is available on one of the “pirate” labels, such as House Of Opera. The sound is modern, well more modern than some of the Bayreuth ones. The cast is stellar and my own favorite is Ernst Kozub’s Siegmund.

Opera Depot also has the whole cycle. Highly recommended.
 

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The next Ring I am excited to hear is the Rattle. As far as I can tell only the first two operas have been released.
Rattle & the BPO did a Ring cycle at the Aix festival of which the Gotterdammerung video is available on the Digital Concert Hall. It was very positively received some years back when I did a blind Ring cycle from various sources.
 
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