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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Ring at a bargain price
This is not going to be a long review - another reviewer has referred to the long and informative reviews of the 2007 incarnation of this recording, which I read myself and found very helpful. I hovered for some time between this recording and the alternatives from New York and Copenhagen, and have no regrets from choosing this one.

I've got as far as the...
Published on 7 Aug 2011 by Joseph Butterworth

versus
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray: again a problem with act III of Siegfried stereo audio track?
I compared the blu-rays I received today to Kultur's DVD issue from last year. There is a tiny improvement in the video resolution that is insignificant, at least on the upconverting Oppo bdp-93. I could hear no difference in the audio, at least not in the stereo track. I have a very revealing high-end stereo setup. There was also no difference in the audio when heard...
Published 22 months ago by Noam Eitan


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Ring at a bargain price, 7 Aug 2011
By 
Joseph Butterworth (Taunton, Somerset, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2009] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is not going to be a long review - another reviewer has referred to the long and informative reviews of the 2007 incarnation of this recording, which I read myself and found very helpful. I hovered for some time between this recording and the alternatives from New York and Copenhagen, and have no regrets from choosing this one.

I've got as far as the second act of Siegfried and the performances of the main actors range from good to excellent. John Tomlinson's Wotan has been universally praised and I see why, but I was also very impressed by Graham Clark as a wonderfully camp Loge in Rheingold and a scheming, snivelling yet almost likeable Mime in Siegfried. Incidentally, how nice to see Brits doing so well in some of the major parts - Tomlinson and Anne Evans in the final act of Walkure bring tears to the eyes.

I like the way the production and scenery keep the actors moving around, left, right, up and down. This is not a Ring where the actors just stand and sing at each other, and they're all the better for it. The more fantastical events, eg the Ride of the Valkyries, Siegfried fighting the dragon Fafner, are no more believable than in other productions, but without CGI how can they be? This Ring dates from 1991-92, and even today, how do you combine CGI with live people on a stage?

I must also mention the Bayreuth orchestra, in the capable hands of Daniel Barenboim. It's just there, supporting the actors, propelling the action, just as Wagner intended. One hardly ever notices the tempi, so they must be about right. I did think the first few exchanges between Siegmund and Sieglinde were a bit on the slow side, but that could just be me.

Finally, at 45 this set is on offer at a third of the 2007 price. Snap it up while it's still available!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A summary review of the Blu-ray edition AFTER receiving it and not just in anticipation, 8 Jan 2012
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2009] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
This review is an update to the earlier summary review supplied for the DVD box set. I now have received the Blu-ray upgrade and it has fulfilled all my hopes for a markedly enhanced experience. The performances remain the same of course so much of what follows applies to both the DVD and the Blu-ray issues. Nevertheless it must be stressed at the outset that all the usual advantages of Blu-ray are readily to be enjoyed with this latest version of the recording. Those interested in the upgrade may purchase it without fear of disappointment.

The biggest surprise for me when first experiencing this set of the Ring was the effect of considerable movement - much of it fast and urgent. This is a concept far from the old style of `stand and deliver' and it achieves a considerable accumulative effect when followed through the whole set of four operas. For the purposes of this review I will restrict myself to considering the broad issues relating to this set. More specific comments can be found under the individual issues which can still be bought separately on DVD.

Quick movement is important to this production as mentioned above. Considerable use is made of the vast stage at Bayreuth so that the settings can be built on an appropriately huge scale and so that characters can move rapidly around unfettered by limitations of space. This enables this entire production to differ fundamentally from many other conceptions that are more constrained by spatial considerations and which frequently have far less urgent movement and which have to rely upon other means to achieve their purpose.

Quite apart from the purely musical considerations, this set makes extensive use of laser technology. This is often in the form of shafts of light than can vary in thickness from narrow shafts to sheets of colour.

The time period is established as modern to futuristic but of an indeterminate moment. This is achieved via costumes and stage sets which are a mixture of function and abstraction. Key dramatic staging moments are effective - such as Valhalla, the Nibelung realm, toad catching, Mime's furnace, the dragon fight, Brunnhilde's rock etc. The sense of the epic is totally established throughout this set along with the awareness of Wotan's essential instability of character which makes him vulnerable to the errors of judgement which inevitably lead to his and the gods ultimate downfall. This is drama writ large and Barenboim, the producer, the cast and the orchestra fully deliver on all counts.

None of this would be worthwhile of course if the musical values were inadequate. In this case the whole cast delivers consistently high standards with not a weak moment anywhere. Wotan, as an unpredictable and dominant God, is superb throughout and is portrayed by John Tomlinson who was at the peak of his powers at the time and in magnificent voice. Wotan is, of course, very much the central figure in this drama and Tomlinson totally succeeds in delivering a clear sense of the epic while Wotan's mental instability is wonderfully shown through his physical presence. Perfect.

Loge fulfils his distantly scheming role well and Graham Clark has just the right character for this role. Alberich, portrayed by Gunter von Kannen is powerful and delivers his curse effectively as he must and remains a powerful force throughout. Mime is also a much stronger than often portrayed and more believable character than usual and Jerusalem, as Siegfried, avoids appearing to be just a spoiled and immature bully. He is at the peak of his form and, to my mind, is far more effective here than in the Levine/Met performance. Hunding and Hagen are both satisfyingly menacing and Seigmunde and Seiglinde make a convincing pair. Brunnhilde, performed by Anne Evans, sings outstandingly throughout and is a totally believable pivotal characterisation. The recorded sound fully supports Barenboim's driving energy. In a word - marvellous.

The recording dates from 1992 but has already been digitally enhanced for DVD and now appears as a much improved Blu-ray with sharper image definition and sound (only listened to in DTS surround). What cannot be solved is the considerable amount of trailing light as the film technology of the time could not keep up with the faster actions in the predominantly dark lighting. However I personally find the trailing image effects surrounding the various characters as they move swiftly about rather effective as it emphasises their essentially unpredictable and often unbalanced mental and physical speed. Strange, as normally I would find this a distracting visual problem but it is almost a total positive here. The sound is thrillingly 'real' and is presented in DTS 5.1 (excellent) and stereo (untested)

I unhesitatingly find that this is my benchmark preferred version despite having owned two other highly respected video productions on DVD and Blu-ray and therefore equally unhesitatingly give it the full 5 stars even bearing in mind the 1992 recording issues as described above. This is further enhanced by currently being at an astonishingly low bargain price and now available as a Blu-ray and most definitely enhanced.

This review summary, it must be stressed yet again, has been written after receipt of the Blu-ray set and is not in anticipation of its arrival. This issue, in my opinion, is simply essential. I am absolutely delighted and it has proved to be well worth the long wait. A 5 star set if ever there was one.

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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best Ring on DVD / Blu-ray, 27 Feb 2011
By 
This review is from: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2009] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is not a review but just a note to point you to the far more erudite reviewers who have written about the 2007 Barenboim / Kupfer release which is the same as this.Richard Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2007]
I mentioned this set in a review of the excellent Fura del Baus set. I now sadly have eight dvd sets of the Ring but this is still the one played most.
Recorded in the 1990s with a stellar cast, a non-traditional but believable set and incandescent orchestral playing at points sounding more lush Hollywood film score than Bayreuth and all the better for it.
For more detailed insights, please read those reviews especially the ones by John De Wald and John Ferngrove who both write elegantly and eloquently.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best DVD/Bluray Ring?, 1 Feb 2013
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No Ring cycle is going to satisfy everyone - this is one of the best available on disc, although at over 20 years old it is showing it's age in terms of stagecraft and video quality. The audio quality is very good overall although the DTS 5.1 soundtrack does not work on my equipment and in Dolby 5.1, while the orchestral sound is excellent, the voices are quite distant. The LCM stereo soundtrack may be preferred by some. A worthwhile purchase but be warned you are likely to pay a customs charge of 10 and a post office handling charge of 8!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant singing, iffy staging and costumes., 10 Aug 2014
By 
I. Zaneres (west midlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2009] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
I will start with the best first, the singers are all very good or even better, I would go as far as to say that Anne Evans is the very best Brunhilde of the seven versions that I have seen. John Tomlinson is up to standard and takes his part well. Gunter Von Kannen is an excellent Alberich, and Helmut Pampuch does a good job as Mime.
In Die Valkurie, Paul Elming and Nadine Secunde are well cast as the brother and sister lovers, a very good pairing.
Siegfried Jerusalem is a fine crass Siegfried, He has a fine voice, I thoroughly enjoy his performance.
In both Siegfried and Rheingold, the brief appearances of Erda by Birgitta Svenden is a minor highlight, she is most impressive visually and aurally.
Eva Maria Bundschuh is also good as the most sympathetic character in the whole epic, Gutrune.
Now for the costumes, they are in the main vaguely mid 20th century, somewhat inappropriate in the main, and very disappointing there is also a fair bit of incongruity, with for instance the two Nibelung brothers who do look more in character, and the giants costumes, which are big but unwieldy. In Gotterdamerung Hagen seems to be a hells angel biker, but minus his bike. In fact the more modern costumes work better in Gotterdammerung than the other three episodes.
The staging is very boring in the main, with often throughout a bland dark surfaced stage. The props are often bewildering and for instance, in Niebelhiem there is an iron gantry bridging the stage. The Rhine is green floodlighting at ground level, Mime has an old steam boiler for his home, and the interior of the Gibichung residence is four sets of skeletal steps each at right angles, and leading to a central platform, puzzling to say the least.
Wotan appears from time to time observing the action, as does Alberich, unique to this production.
There is also a rather strange ending, involving a number of people in evening dress.
All in all I find the staging and costumes bewildering and rather self indulgent, and not enhancing the production.
If I were rating this from the visual aspects I would struggle to give three stars, but the quality of the singing lifts the production and it will remain part of my library.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray: again a problem with act III of Siegfried stereo audio track?, 2 Nov 2012
By 
I compared the blu-rays I received today to Kultur's DVD issue from last year. There is a tiny improvement in the video resolution that is insignificant, at least on the upconverting Oppo bdp-93. I could hear no difference in the audio, at least not in the stereo track. I have a very revealing high-end stereo setup. There was also no difference in the audio when heard through a Benchmark DAC1 PRE and Sennheiser 600's.

The initial Kultur DVD issue had a defect in the stereo track of most of act III of Siegfried, which Kultur later corrected. The Siegfried blu-ray seems to have a different kind of problem in the act III stereo track. The Siegfried blu-ray stereo audio track in acts I and II is significantly lower level than the other operas. In act III the volume goes suddenly up so much that you cannot go on listening with the same volume as in acts II and I; you have to turn the volume down significantly. In other words, acts II and I are too quiet and act III too loud. In addition the act III stereo track sounds different even after correcting levels. There is more reverb, the sound is much more forward and the overall timbre is different and more aggressive and unpleasant than acts II and I. It's clear that the act III stereo track is from a different source than the other two acts and is of a lower quality. When I compared the Siegfried blu-ray stereo audio track with the Siegfried DVD, the replacement DVD Kultur sent me for act III of Siegfried has a stereo track that is the same level as the other two acts, but all three acts on the DVD sound more like the lower quality audio on the act III of the blu-ray, but not quite as strident.
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I wrote Kultur about this issue, and this is the response I got on 11/13/12:

Dear Mr. Eitan,

We received your e-mail regarding the stereo audio on Act III of the Siegfried disc from the Wagner Blu-ray set.

When we released this on standard DVD, there was a problem in the master tape where partially through Act III the audio changed from stereo to mono.
It was corrected by using the audio track from Warner's original DVD released years ago.

And to avoid the same problem for the Blu-ray, the same audio track was used. So yes, it was from a different source.
The volume level can obviously be changed by the viewer, but as far as the other things you mentioned such as reverb, or being more "forward", the only way that could be changed is if it were re-mixed somehow. Unfortunately, we don't have any access to the multiple track audio to do that.

I also wanted to let you know that there are no problems with the two surround sound tracks in Dolby 5.1 or in DTS if you have the ability to listen to it that way.

Should you want a refund, you may contact...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way to understand the Ring Cycle, 6 April 2014
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This review is from: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2009] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
This review is addressed to those who, like me, are not familiar with The Ring Cycle. Listen to it while reading the libretto is hard work and imagining the scenes/ry is harder still. So buying a DVD is an excellent way to get to grips with this enormous, dense and wondrous opera especially as it is the same cast conducted by Barenboim that recorded one of the most well-received CD sets. The sets are amazing (I don't know why some feel they are dated), the photography with suitable close-ups and wider shots enhances the drama and I have no problem with the quality of picture or sound. At the price it is an outstanding bargain and not to be missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wagner's Ring, 23 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2009] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
I purchased the DVDs as I needed a version where I had a translation of the text.I have previously listened to parts of the Solti Ring and also own the La Scala Furtwangler version on black disc.

For 27 this is a real bargain. I have so far watched the first two operas and dipped into the last part of Gotterdammerung. All the roles are well cast and the orchestra under Barenboim is superb. I am not too sure about the production. The Valkyries are more like pantomime characters than female warriors.

It is still the cheapest way to hear a modern version and I do respect Barenboim's interpretation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Awe Inspiring, 1 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen [DVD] [2009] [2011] [NTSC] (DVD)
You either love Wagner or hate him. In The Ring is Wagner at his peak, the support of its singers is paramount and Tomlinson gave it his all.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best ever Wagner RING on video flawed by inept mastering, 15 Dec 2012
I shall not repeat the praises about this set voiced in earlier reviews. To me it is the ultimate Ring cycle available on video, mainly thanks to the producer (Harry Kupfer), the designer (Hans Schavernoch) and last but not least Daniel Barenboim, the singers and the orchestra.
I have seen several Ring cycles at opera houses, and even more from videos, but this recording easily tops all of them. I could go on like that forever.
But I must nitpick on the technical side of the release. Whilst a more comprehensive booklet would be welcome, this very slim 16-page booklet definitely keeps the price of the set down. What does not keep the price down is the mastering of these blu-ray discs. Their main fault is annoying to say the least. When you play these long operas and want to take a break, the disc has no memory option to resume the playback. When you stop the disc you must go through all the initial nag screens with warnings and menus, and to reset your subtitles again. And if you make a mistake - you are back to square one. Neither is it possible to tap in a chapter number on the remote control to move directly to the desired place - no, it is not possible: you must either keep pressing the skip button or go back to the Scene Selection screen. Hey, you people in Kultur! Get your act together next time!
I must add here that I played these discs on two Panasonics: one of which is a player, and the other is a blu-ray recorder. Sadly the effect is the same.
These are minor faults but very annoying when you want to enjoy the continuity of the opera.
To go around this problem, from now on I am going to pause the playback when I need to leave the room. This may bring about the player's earlier demise but at least we'll enjoy this superb RING. Happy viewing!
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