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Gareth Thomas (Birmingham, UK)

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Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen
Price: 33.97

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great drama, even greater value, 22 Sep 2010
There are arguably better played and recorded complete Ring sets but no stereo recording has the real sense of urgent drama that Bohm conveys or the consistent strength of his cast. The slight drawbacks of the live recording (extraneous noises, occasional rough/ill-tuned orchestral playing) I found recede within minutes once you get drawn into the action. Alan Blyth in Gramophone 1994 felt that Bohm's set was still the most consistently rewarding in the face of the competition from Solti, Janowski or Barenboim.

The 14 discs are in plain paper envelopes in a solid card box. There is no libretto (that would be a miracle at this price) instead Decca provide a reasonably detailed seven-and-a-half page synopsis with cue points. The much vaunted 'new essay by George Hall' is a pitiful two-page blurb about Bohm and the main singers and their relationship with the music of Wagner and Bayreuth. But at this price I'm not complaining!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2011 11:48 PM BST

Rachmaninoff Sergei Piano Concertos Nos 1 2 And 3 In Full Score Bk (Piano Concertos, 2 & 3)
Rachmaninoff Sergei Piano Concertos Nos 1 2 And 3 In Full Score Bk (Piano Concertos, 2 & 3)
by Various
Edition: Paperback
Price: 15.71

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the final word, 5 May 2010
As with so many Dover editions this is a good, inexpensive score, but being as Dover scores are all photographic reproductions of scores now out of copyright one has to exercise care if things like scholarly accuracy is important to you. For example, some of their Bruckner and Mahler scores are reproductions of spurious editions or versions simply superseded by later amendments by the composer.

The scores of the Second and Third Concertos are fine but the version of the First Concerto contains only the composer's 1917 revisions and not the further adjustments he made later on to the piano figuration and the orchestration, things which are apparent even just to those who want to follow the score while listening to a recording. For anyone who wants Rachmaninoff's definitive thoughts on his First Concerto you'll have to fork out for the Boosey & Hawkes pocket score.

Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony
Vaughan Williams: A Sea Symphony
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 10.13

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat of a curate's egg, 3 Nov 2009
I'm always interested to hear interpretations of Vaughan Williams from non-British conductors, or at least conductors free from what one might call a "British performance tradition" of RVW, conductors who, in short, will interpret him not as an English composer (just as a composer) since it has always seemed to me that there are a good many continental influences to his style as "native" ones, a wonderful irony when one forever hears his music being dubbed as "quintessentially English". Add to this the fact that this recording was chosen as the BBC's Building A Library Choice in May 2007 then I felt I had to try this.
Indeed there are many admirable things about this recording. The choir is, as one would expect from the ASOC, excellent, though not faultless. Intonation was surprisingly not as consistently secure as I would have liked and hoped from this Chorus. Then in one or two places I just felt that the choir was too good - details were overdone to the point that my attention was drawn away from the music to the performance. Diction is OK - I wasn't particularly distracted by the American-style English pronunciation but I know there are some people who will.
The soloists are, on the whole, fine, albeit they have the tendency to sing the piece as if it were an oratorio. Yes, there are the solemn, "religious" moments but there are also the operatic, passionate (erotic, even) moments where I felt Goerke and Polegato were just too buttoned-up.
But for me the most disappointing aspect of this recording is the interpretation of the conductor, Robert Spano. RVW's Sea Symphony would be a desert island disc for me - it is a masterpiece, a flawed one I admit, but I love it warts and all. Its main flaw is its sprawling structure but the conductor should seek to work with it, not try and solve its "longueurs" simply by taking everything faster. For me it is the journey not the destination that makes or breaks this piece in a performance.
So, overall this recording is only perhaps equal to (not greater than) the sum of its parts; I feel little merely cold admiration for it. For me Haitink is still the best currently available (who was the Building a Library Choice in 2000). Perhaps being an experienced conductor of Bruckner and Mahler Haitink more than knows how to handle the long-range structural challenges RVW's Sea Symphony presents and also tap into its spiritual quality.

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