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Wagner: Die Walküre [Box set]

James Levine Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £51.85
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Since his June 5, 1971, debut at the Metropolitan Opera with Tosca, Music Director James Levine has developed a relationship with that company that is unparalleled in its history and unique in the musical world today. He conducted the first-ever Met performances of Mozart's Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, Verdi's I Vespri ... Read more in Amazon's James Levine Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: DG
  • ASIN: B000001G95
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,381 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Walkure 6 Sep 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
There are many recordings of Der Ring Des Nibelungen to choose from, but anyone who loves this work should own this cycle. It contains most of the greatest Wagner singers of that time, and in the case of Birgit Nilsson of any time. These recordings were recorded live at the Bayreuth Festival and the sound is excellent, on good play back equipment you can hear the unique Bayreuth acoustic of the Theatre. Karl Bohm is sometimes on the swift side but he brings out the drama and excitment and the Bayreuth orchestra play superbly well for him. With the fall in standards both vocally and in the staging currently at Bayreuth, these recordings enshrine a great period of Bayreuths history.
The Testament set under Keilberth (also recorded live at Bayreuth) is another excellent performance also in brilliant sound. I would personally go for the Decca/Bohm recordings, mainly because I heard most of the singers in their roles and the sound quality is just that much better. Buy you wont regret.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review from the orchestra pit! 17 Dec 2000
By Mary Ann Mumm - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I am very glad to see the complimentary reviews on this recording. I am a member of the Met Orchestra and found it thrilling to record Die Walkuere with this cast and Levine. I am very surprised that nobody mentioned Kurt Moll as Hunding. It was the most amazing singing I ever heard. I would shiver as soon as he opened his mouth, such a menacing other-worldly sound. Unlike many singers who make several takes and some who go over and over their high notes, Mr. Moll recorded everything on the first take, one time and one time only.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fine "Die Walkure" 1 Mar 2000
By Russel E. Higgins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I have seen three cycles of "The Ring" at the Met, and have tickets for the 2000 performances. I thought that James Levine was at his best in this opera. I also thought that I had never heard the music played so beautifully by an orchestra; the Met orchestra truthfully matched a performance I saw at Bayreuth in 1997. Therefore, I bought the Met-Levine "Walkure," knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the cast. I have not been disappointed. The orchestra sounds exhilerating on the CD's, Levine shapes the performances beautifully, and the musicianship and involvement of the cast is complete. In Act I, the music is plainly exciting and the singing noble. Some critics may question Behrens' voice in this opera and the two subsequent ones, but I have always found her a fine Brunnhilde who consistently gives 100% of herself to the performance. Morris' voice is magnificent, and the final "Abschied" is breathtaking. (As a matter of fact, it was this Brunnhilde-Wotan duet that curators chose to play at Wagner's home, Wahnfried, in Bayreuth for visitors. I may add that it sounded marvelous in Richard Wagner's living room.)Yes, I would highly recommend this recording as probably the most satisfactory recording of the opera. The Solti "Walkure" has many weaknesses, particularly in the first act, and with Hans Hotter who is too old for Wotan. I always thought that Solti's conducting of this opera was not his best, although I find his renditions of the other three "Ring" operas to be as close to definitive as one can get. I might add that the CD performance of "Die Walkure" is very different from the video performance, and much better. Act I of the video peformance tends to be mannered, particularly with Jessye Norman. Behrens is not in as good a voice as on the CD's. However, there is a great deal of excitement in the performance. I have not, as yet, mentioned Christa Ludwig, but her performance in Act II is one reason in itself to buy this performance. I have heard everything she did at the Met since 1965, and I find her one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. You may argue with my view of Levine's "Walkure," but I'm sure you don't want to dispute Ms. Ludwig's contribution to music over the past 35 years!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the Best Die Walkure on disc 7 Dec 2005
By The Cultural Observer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
People have criticized James Levine for his plodding tempos in his Wagner conducting. However, I believe that his conducting is most true to Wagner's score. I personally think that this Walkure is the best on disc, exceeding the recordings made by Sir Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan, Clemens Krauss, and to a certain extent, Karl Böhm. The clear, precise, yet transparent sounds he draws from the Met Orchestra is superb, and he displays the psychological drama of the epic tetralogy to a tee. Dare I say that no other orchestra captures the soundscape of the Ring so clearly and beautifully as the Met does in this recording? The cast is top notch too, with Brunhildde being played by the very youthful sounding Hildegard Behrens in her prime. From the magnificent opening Hojotohos to her farewell with Wotan, none of the dramatic qualities of the part were missed by this gifted German soprano. You have here the feminine qualities perfected by Regine Crespin in her Karajan recording, plus the clarion high notes of Birgit Nilsson, and you have a great Valkyrie. Wotan is played by none other than James Morris, a singer whose Wotan I believe exceeds that of Hans Hotter in the Solti recording. This isn't a Wotan to fear, although that is one of the attributed the great American bass baritone can bring to the music. You also have Wotan the father, the lover, the compassionate head god who is distraught because he no longer has the universe under his control. A reference performance indeed. Gary Lakes plays Siegmund, a part bettered only by James King and Jon Vickers. His Sieglinde is Jessye Norman, and despite this talk about her overmannered Sieglinde, I would say that this is one of her greatest Wagner performances...very touching and vocally magnificent. Christa Ludwig plays Fricka, and although the voice is no longer what it was years ago for Solti, the drama she exudes in the text simply cuts through everything like a knife. This is a reference Fricka that must be held beside the hallmark one she recorded decades earlier for Solti. Finally, Hunding is played by none other than Kurt Moll. I wonder why this singer is cast so sparsely in other recordings when he can command some of the greatest Wagner performances on disc. His Gurnemanz, in my opinion, is the most wonderful in the discography if Hotter were erased from history's annals. The Valkyries are a finely tuned octet of sisters.

This truly is a great recording, and the sound is a miracle beyond miracles. Highly recommended!
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As a total package, I'll take this one 4 Dec 2004
By Eric Krupin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Most people seem to dismiss this "Walkure" because Hildegard Behrens isn't Kirsten Flagstad, Gary Lakes isn't Lauritz Melchior, and James Levine isn't Hans Knappertsbusch. Maybe so. (Although remember the wise old adage: "The Golden Age of opera is always the one you just missed.") But Wagner, more than any other composer, is about the total experience - not just golden throats. And if the participants here aren't clear firsts in every category, their consistent and cumulative excellence make this an extremely competitive candidate.

Let's start with Behrens as everyone's favorite Valkyrie. It's true that she lacks power in the mid-range. But the crucial high notes are strong and shiny. And though they are not as magnificent as Birgit Nilsson's, the outstanding digital sound in which they are captured is a nice consolation. (Opera, like politics, is an art of compromises.)

And Gary Lakes as Siegmund? I'm sure this heresy will earn me a bushel of "unhelpful" votes from the moldy figs. But I have the legendary 1935 Vienna Melchior/Lehmann/List "Walkure" Act I, and I'll take Mr. Lakes, thank you. His instrument may not be the equal of Melchior's Stradivarius, but it's a sweet fiddle all the same (lotsa helden in his tenor) and he plays it far more affectingly, in my opinion.

I'm also prepared to stack up Jessye Norman's almost dementedly passionate Sieglinde against any other essayer of the role. As the mother of the World's Greatest Hero, she ought not to be sung as a swooning Bavarian wildflower. With La Norman's lashing torrents of vocal power, when the character longs to have her shame avenged, you'll know she means it. And when she climactically calls her brother by his true name, you'll want a cigarette afterwards.

If there is a better performance of Hunding than Kurt Moll's, seething with menace, let it be brought forward. I find James Levine an outstanding Wagner conductor - equally adept with the thunderous "Ride of the Valkyries" and the meltingly tender string playing at the end of Act III. And the recorded sound is demonstration class - if you like that sort of thing.

There will always be Solti die-hards and with Birgit Nilsson in his arsenal you can't blame them. But this will be my "Walkure" of choice from now on.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearing it for the first time 26 Feb 2010
By marcel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I saw this performance twice at the Met in 1990. I adore the Ring, beyond any words that I can use to describe it.
I can't remember the first time I heard Die Walkure, but I remember clearly the first time I took a friend of mine to see this performance. She didn't know opera, let alone Wagner. During the 3rd act, during the scene when Wotan says good-bye to his daughter, just before she is put to sleep, (the genius of great art touching someone for the first time), they are in process of embracing one another for the last time, I looked over at her and she was crying, tears were running down her face! And this was before subtitles! She knew the story,we had discussed it,...I will never forget that sight. This performance will touch you, Behrens is not the greatest Brunhilde but Ludwig is probably one of the greatest Frickas, and in the end it all comes together, passionately together.
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