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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon please don't post this review on any other products
This review is for the CD Box set of Furtwängler RAI 1953 ring cycle which was produced by Documents/Membran circa 2010. (Some time ago a hitherto scrupulous cataloguing system at Amazon degenerated and reviews started to appear on multiple products even if they had different masters or even different performances. The CAST :
Wotan-Ferdinand Frantz...
Published 14 months ago by Anagnostic

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars BEWARE!
I am not a music or cd technology expert, but I love the Ring and have 5 complete cycles on cd. When I read the reviews of this historic recording I was tempted by the low price to add it to my collection. The item arrived speedily and was well packed and nicely presented in a box of CD wallets. The overall sound quality is a little disappointing compared with the...
Published 5 months ago by David W


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon please don't post this review on any other products, 16 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
This review is for the CD Box set of Furtwängler RAI 1953 ring cycle which was produced by Documents/Membran circa 2010. (Some time ago a hitherto scrupulous cataloguing system at Amazon degenerated and reviews started to appear on multiple products even if they had different masters or even different performances. The CAST :
Wotan-Ferdinand Frantz
Donner-Alfred Poell
Froh-Lorenz Fehenberger
Loge-Wolfgang Windgassen
Fricka-Ira Malaniuk
Freia-Elisabeth Grümmer
Erda-Ruth Siewert
Alberich-Gustav Neidlinger
Mime-Julius Patzak
Fasolt-Josef Greindl
Fafner-Gottlob Frick
Woglinde-Sena Jurinac
Wellgunde-Magda Gabory
Flosshilde-Hilde Rössl-Majdan
I will not repeat the superlatives and reservations regarding the Artistic merits of this particular production as this ground has long been trodden into a pilgrims path. Suffice to say ones enjoyment and possible appreciation depends on ones tolerance of the recording techniques that were at hand at the time and the ability to improve or dis-improve this on subsequent remasters. Firstly packaging is flat pack and reminiscent of an old 10" disc. However on opening it one is transported back to the cheap chocolate box reality of budget production values. One reviewer states that a libretto was included with the download. This is certainly not the case with the box set. What you do get is a nicely presented but very brief synopsis in German and English with a few illustrations which are not in any way related to this particular performance. Having lived with the old EMI CD box set for over ten years I can confirm that despite identical track listings this is not the same master at all. The EMI set has been widely critiqued for over filtering and this set has allowed me to appreciate this point because of its greater presence, separation and dynamic range. I have also found this remaster (and the older EMI offering) much more satisfying than the expensive and in my view overly harsh Gebhardt master. Pristine Classics kindly offered a free download of Of Die Walküre ActI and the beginning of Act II in Andrew Rose's ambient stereo master of this performance. Although this freebie was compressed at the rather low level of 128 kbps it outshines all before it and raises the remastering benchmark. That said, I believe this Membran remastering is a passable mono alternative to the comparatively expensive pristine master and I believe it is currently the best budget version in terms of sound quality. As this is the main substantive issue it deserves 5 stars.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super-bargain "Ring"!, 23 Jan 2012
By 
Mr.Woods (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
First thing to notice is the format... it's attractively presented, in a flat box roughly ten inches (26cm) square, (though people with restricted shelves may cavil). The four individual operas are in trays arranged side by side, and there's a decent booklet with detailed synopses (no libretti or translations).

I cannot comment on these transfers compared to to others, as I have never previously owned this set; when it was issued on LP in the 1970s I was a mere adolescent, infatuated with the thrills and spills and Sonic-Stage wonders of Solti/Decca, so I didn't bother with mono Wagner. Later I opted for the 1950 Scala Furtwangler Ring for the sake of Flagstad, because I had big problems with Martha Modl's voice.

Recently I've been put off the EMI transfer because of reports of dull sound and over-filtering, but at £11.99 I couldn't pass up giving this one a shot.

The sound is, to my ears, marvellous, nice and bright with lots of presence and what I call "face" to the voices.

From the first deep E-flat the Furtwangler magic asserts itself, the sense of continuous line- while still pointing up orchestral characterisation is a miracle. Time and again you notice things- e.g.,a curt string tremolando at Wotan's irritation with Loge's evasiveness which made me smile: Solti, for one, doesn't appear to have registered many of these little touches.

The whole of Walkure is wonderful, Windgassen at his very best, a more stoic Siegmund than the (for me) slightly self-pitying portrayal on the Knapperstbusch/ Bayreuth set. Hilde Konetzni is fine though she doesn't quite rise to "O hehrstes Wunder!". I understand now why my younger self couldn't get on with Martha Modl... acclimatised to the pingier hochdramatische sounds of Flagstad, Nilsson and Traubel, Modl's warmer more Germanic sound probably sounded alien. But, with the benefit of years of listening to Behrens, Dernesch, Evans and many others I have to say she's one of the great Brunnhildes for me. The second scene of Act Three with Frantz is incandescent, ecstatic, not to be missed. There's something of Callas about the intensity of her singing, she's completely riveting.

Frantz has one of the great Wotan voices, and if he's no Hotter when it comes to Wotan's introspection and soul-searching, he's very satisfying, as is Ludwig Suthaus' tirelesly heroic (though tender when needed) Siegfried. Only Julius Patzak's scrupulously well-behaved Mime grates with me. It's nice, I suppose, to hear all the notes sung so cleanly, but surely there has to be SOME vocal acting?? Too tame. Josef Greindl gives probably his greatest Hagen (he's in vinegary voice ten years later for Bohm/Phillips, if still imposing).

But the main reason for buying this bargain set is Furtwangler. I'm glad I took a long time to come to this set. For me, it really is "One Ring to Rule Them All", and probably, of the nine recorded "Rings" that I own, the Desert Island choice.!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great Ring Cycles, 17 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
Although an early recording the sound quality is good and, of course, the price incredible. Of the many impressive things here, Walküre is notable for Martha Mödl's beautifully sung Brunhilde and Windgassen's youthful Siegmund, as well as one of the strongest and most perfectly sung Hundings on disc, Gottlob Frick. It is also astonishing that within just over a decade, 3 Ring Cycles could be recorded that sound so different due to the terrific individual direction of three different conductors - here, Furtwängler, then Kleiberth and finally Solti. I am very pleased I now have all three.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars BEWARE!, 7 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
I am not a music or cd technology expert, but I love the Ring and have 5 complete cycles on cd. When I read the reviews of this historic recording I was tempted by the low price to add it to my collection. The item arrived speedily and was well packed and nicely presented in a box of CD wallets. The overall sound quality is a little disappointing compared with the picture presented by some of the very positive reviews on Amazon. There are a few clicks and pops and a rather muddy orchestral presence, though the singers are generally forward and well recorded.

So far so good but unfortunately there is a major fault with the production of CD4 (Act 2 Die Walkure). The last 3 tracks on the disc are unplayable due to skipping. I tried the disc on 4 cd players with the same result. I was able to copy the disc to my computer and inspect the wave form in Audacity - the breaks are clearly visible. I am surprised no other reviewers have encountered this problem.

I contacted the marketplace seller Music-Shop and they responded immediately, apologised and sent me a replacement set. Unfortunately, CD4 in the new set had exactly the same flaws. I informed the seller and they contacted the Label "Mebran", I was told that they were inspecting their master tapes but after a month there is still no response.

I find it difficult to believe that I am the only person unlucky enough to have receive a faulty disc from 2 separate sets. Surely, all the label need to do is take CD4 out of a set from the same batch that I received and pop it into a cd player.

In conclusion, my advice to those considering buying this Ring Cycle is only do so if you have other good quality recordings already and are interested in hearing this historic recording. Above all bear in mind that CD4 may prove to be faulty with the final 3 tracks unplayable!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great performance, poor manufacture, 9 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
Although I had to return this product because of defective manufacture, I am awarding five stars for the quality of the performance. Compared with Furtwängler's La Scala performance, this reading is more measured, often a touch slower, and with fewer spontaneous changes to the vocal line. The audience is much quieter - you only know they are there because of the applause - and there is no stage noise. Other commentators have questioned whether Martha Mödl's was the right voice for Brünhilde; she doesn't dominate the show as Flagstad did, but she does not detract from a fine ensemble cast and it is wonderful to hear a different style of Wagner singing from another great tradition.
I cannot compare this remastering with previous releases as I don't own any, but the sound is clear.
The problem with the set sent to me was that several tracks skipped - something reported by other reviewers. When I hear that the problems of manufacture have been overcome, I hope to buy another set.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling. Incredible value., 14 Feb 2013
By 
Richard Thomas (Sandhurst, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
It amazes me that in this day and age, given the importance of 'The Ring' in the opera canon, that most recordings are live and subject to the vagaries of performer, performance and engineering quality "on the night". I was therefore delighted to find a studio version other than Solti's epic. Mono it may be, and recorded in front of an audience rather than spliced from a variety of takes, but this is immediate and involving in a way I just can't put down. Paced to perfection, and with a good balance of orchestra and voices, this is what radio does at it best. It doesn't try and make you think you're in a theatre, it doesn't test the quality of your hifi, it just delivers the experience and takes you to the heart of the action. You can make out every word and the feelings and emotions behind them. If I only had one version this would be it (sorry Georg).
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ferdinand Frantz, 17 April 2013
By 
Mr. J. Dow "Choobs" (Livingston, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
I've just had to revise my opinions of my favourite performance of Wotan.

This recording has always had a legendary status, possibly due to it being fairly difficult to get a hold of. For me, though, it's THE cycle. I was a bit worried going into it as my favourite records (Solti, Barenboim, Karajan, Bohm) all benefit from fairly modern(ish) recordings (well, stereo at least).

Well, I can honestly say that the audio shortcomings (which are by no means large, particularly given the vintage) faded into the background halfway through scene 1 of Rheingold. This is a breathtaking recording. Don't think about it. Just buy now.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wagner at his most sublime, 12 Feb 2012
This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
I was sceptical about the quality of this given the low price, but on listening to it all my doubts melted away - it is wonderful. A real bargain and some absolutely wonderful music.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Same as EMI edition, 31 Mar 2012
By 
PEDRO A PEREIRA (V.N.Gaia, - Portugal) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
Just bought this box-set, and this seems, at first hearing, the exact same recording as the last EMI edition, with all the same filtering and noise removed. As I explained in my other review, and many other on the EMI edition reviews, this reprocessing of the recording made it cleaner, removed all the noise, but also removed all the raw power and intensity of these incredible performances, there are some instruments that actually disappeared, specially the lower ones. Most of the feeling and intensity is gone, all the problems and bad production remained, so no much left to praise, other than the fact of being the greatest performance ever on record. The Prelude to Die Walkure even felt being played in another tempo.

On the other hand, at this price, it's a must have it you love Furtwangler and Wagner, as well as a great performance to complement the Solti standard, and all the other favorites from the golden era, Knappertbush, Keilberth, Krauss, whichever you prefer. I was not that much fond of the Bohm performance and can't see where all the rave is about. You can get much better. If you are starting off with the Ring cycle, go for the Solti, of course.

Also, this is a much better option than the EMI edition, it comes in a larger and IMHO much better box, the cd wrappers are not in paper, but in printed card, but above all comes with a small libretto in German and English so you can understand the story better. Very good, recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value, 15 April 2012
By 
W. Pantland (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (Audio CD)
This is a fantastic recording for a good price. The only problem is that the tracks are .wav files with no metadata (tags). This means you can't burn it to listen to on an mp3 player unless you're prepared to spend time writing lengthy tags in German. Great for long car journeys, though.
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