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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MUCH MORE THAN A LIST OF MOTIVES,
This may look an intimidating, daunting and dull prospect - a 2+ hour lecture on the motifs in the Ring. Don't be put off. Whether you're a relative novice to the Ring and want to find out what it's all about, more experienced with a desire to understand the composer's methods better or an afficionado who thinks he knows it all inside out, there is great pleasure as well as elucidation to be had from this set. Originally made to accompany the Decca Solti Ring, it contains a multitude of musical illustrations taken from those recordings as well as some specially recorded by Solti just for this Introduction.
It wasn't the first time this has been tried. The famous HMV sets from the late 20's also included recorded examples of over 100 motifs. (These, by the way, are available as part of the Pearl reissue of those wonderful HMV recordings). What that set lacked was the wonderful insights as well as the approachability of the talk by Deryck Cooke. Cooke was a great and much missed musicologist - a Mahler expert responsible for the performing edition of the Tenth Symphony still most played today, a fascinating explorer into the nature of music's basic building-blocks in his excellent book, The Language of Music, and an inspiring and elucidating critic of Wagner's work as shown by the fascinating book he left unfinished at his death, I Saw the World End.
On these CDs he does much more than list the leitmotifs and identify them as calling-cards. He shows the amazingly integrated and organic growth of the musical material that Wagner uses throughout his vast work. He demonstrates how motifs can change their sense and meaning as they evolve through the drama. And he shows how the complex combinations of motifs can radically advance both the musical and the dramatic narrative of the piece. There are even places where he corrects the misinterpretation of some of the motifs that had become ingrained from early commentators' false labels.
This set should engage and enlighten anyone with an interest in Wagner's huge and inexhaustible tetralogy. Do give it a try - no matter how far down the road to Wagnerianism you are.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect complement to the Ring,
By A Customer
This recording is a lecture demonstration of motivic development in Wagner's great work "The Ring of the Nibelungs." The composer Deryck Cooke presents a number of lectures demonstrating the main motives and their derivatives, tying in the dramatic and psychological associations. This may sound deadly dull, but it is quite entertaining. The excerpts are from the great Decca/Solti/Vienna recording. Special sections were also arranged to better highlight some of the motives by leaving out foreground elements. The format repeats the main motives whenever necessary to remind us what they sound like before playing some distant cousin.
I was ready for the project of listening to be quite taxing, but was surprised to find it to be a pleasure. It is a "must have" for any Ring enthusiast.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent exposition of the motifs and their links,
This is an illustrated talk about the Ring's musical motifs using illustrations mostly from the Solti DECCA recording, but with some special recordings. I found it fascinating. Although I already had a good basic understanding of the Ring and its structure, I was anazed at the musical relationships _between_ so many of the motifs. Cooke also gives to 'worked examples' of orchestral extracts built from many motifs. The book contains the annotated music for all the 193 musical examples used in the talk.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must have for Ring Cycle fans,
I would thoroughly recommend this CD set to anyone who is interested in the Leitmotif development in Wagner's music, and specifically those who really want to get into the bare bones of the composition of the Ring Cycle.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent accompaniment to The Ring,
Excellent accompaniment to The Ring
This explanation of the many recurring leitmotifs in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen is more than a mere playing of them (using Decca's own Solti Ring Cycle). Rather, it introduces the main ideas of the Ring Cycle using the motifs and then explains how they are transformed in to other forms so as to provide a musical narrative (Wagner's intention) to the action of the opera. There is something to learn here for everybody, and hearing Deryck Cooke's (an expert musicologist who prepared a performing version of Mahler's unfinished tenth symphony) voice guiding us through this minefield is most reassuring. A light knowledge of the story of the cycle is useful but not essential and one does not need to be conversant in musical terminology to understand what Cooke is on about.
This set would make an excellent present for any Wagner-phile, old or new, and is an excellent introduction even for a novice... do not be put off.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant introduction to the Ring,
This is a great combination of intelligent commentary well illustrated with numerous musical examples. It is strictly educational and not much fun for casual listening in the car.
He assumes you know the story but have no understanding of the music. However, it won't be beyond you even if you are a complete beginner and it will still have plenty to teach you even if you know the Ring quite well.
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for all those going or listening to the Ring,
Whether you are a Wagner virgin or an experienced Ring goer, this masterly lecture is simply essential. It is the best guide I know to the families of leitmotifs. Whilst some of the connections are unsurprising, others are far from obvious The analysis of the prelude to Act 3 of Siegfried alone is worth the price of the discs. Listening to this lecture again befofe each hearing of the whole cycle enhances ones enjoyment of and understanding of it. Inevitably a 2 hour lecture cannot provide all the answers. Sadly Derryck did not live to finish his book "I saw the World End" and to provide his answer to some of the more difficult questions e.g. why the so-called "Renunciation of Love" motif reappears just before Siegmund pulls the sword out of the ash tree in Walkure Act 1 and when Brunnhilde in Gotterdammerung Act 1 glorying in the Ring as Siegfried's love token tells Waltraute she will never give it up and they will have to kill her to take it from her
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ring Revealed,
This gives such valuable insight into the way in which the musical themes of the Ring flow consistently throughout the cycle, some of which are obvious, but many more not so. I wish I had discovered it years ago. It also helps that is is based on what is for many of us the much loved and definitive performance, the Decca Ring.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The must for Wagner's lovers,
This is a truly fascinating lecture explaining the Ring motifs by the professional musicologist. Illustrated by music citations from Solti's Ring, it provides a pure joy for the listener plus the "evolutionary" perspective of the motifs. They are not presented by their order of appearance in the four operas, but the narration guides the listener through the way Wagner constructed his music, changing one motif into another, etc.
Wow ! this disgusting crook, antisemitic seducer of his friend's wives, the favourite composer of Hitler was a true genius, and after listening to this CD set you will exactly know why.
5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful listening guide,
If you are at all serious about appreciating the Ring Cycle as a whole, this scholarly but very accessible look at the motifs and other aspects of the epic story will enhance your appreciation and understanding significantly. Highly recommended.
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Wagner: An Introduction to Der Ring des Nibelungen (2 CDs) by Deryke Cooke
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