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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars solti's 'the ring' on 2 discs., 7 April 2010
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (highlights) (Audio CD)
for those not wanting to invest in the complete 14 disc cycle of wagner's 'ring' tetrology, this is an excellent purchase for those who prefer their operas on no more then 2 discs. Unlike most 'highlights' these are not snippets from the opera, but complete tracks, ie 'the great scenes'. This cd consists of 10 tracks over 2 discs covering the whole 'ring' cycle. The sound for this performance, recorded in 1966 is excellent. Considering solti's is considered by many to be the definitive cycle, one cant really go very wrong with this bitesize ring.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forged in the fire, 30 Oct 2012
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (highlights) (Audio CD)
Long ago, when I was about twenty, I bought an LP called The Golden Ring, which consisted of an hour or so of highlights from Solti`s now classic, trailblazing recordings from the late `50s and early `60s. I knew little then about Wagner or his marathon four-opera saga, but the music on that record thrilled me to the marrow, along with Solti`s conducting of this often unbearably exciting music.
This is something even better than that LP - though I do miss its evocative cover, as well as its single-page insert. Here, on two discs, are almost two and a half hours of key scenes from all four operas, in glorious sound. Solti and Decca had gathered together an astonishing array of singers for these sessions, whose names read now like a roll call of the finest operatic talent of the mid-twentieth century. When the great Kirsten Flagstad has the small role of Fricka, and the Valkyries include in their ranks Helen Watts, Brigitte Fassbinder, Helga Dernesch and Berit Lindholm - all relatively young in those days - you know you`ve got some luxury casting. But when your Wotan is both George London and Hans Hotter, Sieglinde is sung by Regine Crespin, Siegmund is James King in fine voice, Siegfried is Wolfgang Windgassen in equally superb voice, Mime sung by Gerhard Stolze, Hagen is Gottlob Frick, Donner is Eberhard Wachter, and, to top it all off, the magnificent Birgit Nilsson is singing Brunnhilde...then you know you`re in for a rare treat.
Solti, whose many opera recordings invariably yield ripe fruit (try his Carmen, for example) is, to my ears, just right for Wagner. He wields the forces of the VPO in such a way as to bring this dramatic music to vibrant life, the innovations of John Culshaw and his engineers of fifty years ago the more exciting for their freshness, as though all concerned knew they were creating a piece of history.
Seldom have so many golden-voiced singers been brought together in one place, albeit over the course of seven years, from 1958-65, and seldom have the results been so exhilarating.
There may well be greater recordings of Wagner`s masterpiece, but this studio labour of love must be counted as one of the glories of the gramophone, and I seriously doubt if you`ll find a more satisfying selection of highlights on two discs than this one.
There are, unsurprisingly at the price, no libretti, and the brief booklet notes concern the operas rather than the recording`s history, but all in all I recommend these marvellous 144 minutes of operatic splendour more than I can say.
Burnished gold.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Scenes Done The Solti Way, 2 Aug 2006
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (highlights) (Audio CD)
An excellent advert for the complete, historic Decca Ring, recorded between the late 1950s and mid 1960s. It will give you a strong taste of all that is good and bad about it.

It certainly looks good on paper: first-rate cast, orchestra and conductor, together with the security of the studio and spectacular sound quality. The playing of the VPO is, indeed, awesome, but so what when Solti appears to be intent on boxing our ears at key moments. The studio context renders everything 'bitty', as does the conducting, with a sense that orchestra and singers occupy separate worlds that is rather disappointing. There is little unity and people like Hotter, Nilsson, Windgassen and King can all be heard on more exciting form in live recordings from Bayreuth. But some will prefer to be without stage and audience noise and this set offers the fullest experience of the musical score, as well as the kitschy appeal of added sound-effects and, if you buy the operas complete, full documentation.

So, probably best recommended to Ring newcomers, but make sure if you do invest, you move on to Bohm (Philips) and Krauss (Archipel).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable experience, 11 Jun 2012
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I regret I do not know loads of different versions, conductors, recordings, etc. I do know that I totally enjoyed this presentation. There are some wonderfully atmospheric tones which really do make you sit up when playing it just a little louder than is strictly necessary :)

I have to also note that this was the first time I have used the Amazon download feature to purchase a digital (MP3) copy of a disc. It was both simple and very fast - about 5 minutes to complete the download and start listening. A very satisfied customer :) CW.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only Wagner could have heard this!, 29 April 2012
By 
Mr. T. Y. W. Kent "Tom" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (highlights) (Audio CD)
I thought several times about this review. Many books, articles etc. have been written about this epic tetralogy. Other than I think that it was by a distance his crowning achievement I will not attempt to discuss the music. The Solti / Culshaw recordings have never been equalled, never mind surpassed. The original sound quality from 1958 - 1966 was utterly astonishing on LP. They also produced a shattering Elektra and a Salome which also demonstrates their obsessions and ultimate insanity. Curiously, Solti & the VPO produced Bruckner 7 & 8 at the same time. These have been very finely remastered by Decca's Australian company, Eloquence. Both are Nowak which is fine but Haas who retained about 10 mins. of great music from a previous version of 8 is better. It is all echt Bruckner but purists argued that he agreed the cuts. That is true but he did it under pressure from the Schalk brothers who felt it was far too long for Viennese audiences. The art of recording blew away that idea.

Solti's Ring is one of the seminal recordings of all time. The cast was stellar and the VPO were at their greatest pre or post Weinstuben. The only way that they could get the Rheingold prelude right was to head for the pub as one nervous horn player or another would split a note. When they returned c. midnight filled with 'laughing juice' they produced the perfect performance in one take. I think that the sadly late John Culshaw's book Ring Resounding is essential and highly entertaining reading. The studio recording is stunning. However, when they first tried a digital transfer it was pallid in comparison with the lps. Not now, it ain't.This 2 cd set is not just a few lollipops or even bleeding chunks. It is complete key scenes. It also is well over 2 1/2 hours long, i.e. the average length of a complete opera by say Puccini. Birgit, at first refused to do Gotterdammerung knowing very well that having recorded Die Walkure & Siegfried she was absolutely crucial to the Immolation scene. They offered her more cash and she did it. It was worth every penny, schilling or kroner.

Only the insane try to climb Everest without trying some lower hills first. This issue is perfect from that standpoint.I was lucky in that I bought each lp set as it was issued over 1958 - 66. I would not have taken on the lot at once for a first hearing. I visited Bayreuth once for a tour but not for a Festspielhaus performance. I was appalled that all the seats were of polished wood with no padding and no cushions allowed. As Wagner was many years younger than the recording industry, the place was totally designed for live performance. There is no visible orchestra pit. They are all tucked under the stage. Guess what, the acoustic is totally different for the singers and the orchestra.Culshaw and his magnificent Decca engineers solved this brilliantly in the studio.

I have read reviews commending say Boehm from Bayreuth live with much the same cast or the Furtwangler (not admittedly my favourite conductor and much more of a Nazi than Wagner would have become)from c.1951. The sound quality here is execrable. Not the performers fault of course. The Boehm points up the two different Bayreuth acoustics. When the prelude to Rheingold starts you can plainly hear latecomers taking their seats, chatting and for all I know sucking on their soft drink cartons. This I like to call the Kia-ora effect.

I would argue for Solti as the best for conveying Wagner's mighty concept over the full cycle. However, there is absolutely no competition re sheer impact & sound quality. Decca win hands down.I somehow don't think that RW intended this as a canary-fanciers feast like Donizetti. The orchestra is absolutely crucial and in some ways are the true hero of the cycle. Not Solti, Windgassen, Nilsson, Hotter, etc. or even Culshaw. The VPO at their greatest rule and I think that Wagner himself would have been delighted.

As an initial immersion in the Ring's world, this is perfect. Go for it. Tom.K.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lengthy extracts from this wonderful recording of the Ring, 17 Jun 2013
By 
John HOLLAS (UK) - See all my reviews
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The Solti/Culshaw recording of the complete Ring cycle is legendary both in terms of performance and recording. These extracts are not the the usual bleeding chunks but, spread over two CDs, mostly quite lengthy.
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