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on 5 October 2010
The big problem of this double CD is that 19 out of 27 tracks are just extracts of the actual recordings. While this may be acceptable for orchestral interludes in vocal parts of an opera, it is simply incomprehensible why for example the Tannhaeuser Ouverture had to be cut in half. In Wagner's score, this amazing piece of music is about 15 Minutes long - this CD only contains 7 Minutes and 35 seconds of the original recording. This is a particular problem for those who chose this CD to get a first impression of Wagner's work: if, like in the mentioned example, the beginning of a musical piece is missing, they will get an entirely wrong impression of the music. In my eyes, this CD attracts the customers with the respectable amount of featured music, but if 70 percent of the tracks are mutilated, the value is not as good as it first seemed.

Besides this huge disappointment, this CD could be a good introduction to Wagner's Orchestral Music which, for the casual listener, is much more accessible than the vocal parts of his operas. All the pieces of music on this CD are played by renowned orchestras with famous conductors. Therefore, I do not mind the fact that more than half of the recordings on this CD are from the sixties and seventies of the 20th century, as I still like the rich sound of this era.

For those who look for an introduction to Wagner's Orchestral works, I would recommend to start with a CD with less, but complete tracks on it.
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on 1 March 2006
I had long planned to seek out a Wagner collection that just avoided long operatic pieces but included all the best preludes and musical interludes; it also had to be a great recording, (basically loud); this collection meets all of these requirements.
The CD cover promises that the music is music of terrifying power and transcending beauty; this is the perfect description for the collection. If you have never listened to Wagner, or avoided him because of his apparent 'guilt of association' in connection with Nazi-ism, this is the place to start. There is really quite a simple logic as to why this music works so well; Wagner's aesthetics are inspired by the German philosopher Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer realized the importance of 'resolution' in a piece of music; Wagner 'toys' with your mind, and keeps you waiting for the piece to be 'resolved', eventually (usually toward the end), he let's you have it, often explosively, and it can be overwhelming; this is particularly apparent in the Mastersingers of Nuremburg (first track disc two), and the Death of Isolde. This is, of course, not easy listening coffee break or elevator music; it is in fact very intense and quite demanding of the listener.
As for Wagner himself, it seems he was a flawed genius. He was culturally racist and apparently very unpleasant. But this music need not turn the listener into a war monger. Woody Allen once said that when hearing Wagner's music he felt the implulse to invade Poland. But you only live once; this album is awesome and can be got for the price of a bottle of wine (if you're buying the right wine).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 September 2007
This is a two-CD collection of some of the finest orchestral moments in Wagner's operatic repertoire. It is in many respects the perfect introduction to the power of his music.

The first CD focuses on "music of power, conflict and death" (as the blurb states), whilst the second concentrates on "music of love, ecstasy and redemption". We can all take this with a pinch of salt, of course, but that is not to deny the power of the music.

The extracts are from the Deutsche Grammophon and Decca catalogues, featuring top orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and the Philharmonia, conducted by the likes of Karajan, Bohm and Sinopoli.

It's not a perfect collection. For example, many of the tracks are extracts from larger pieces, and where is the prelude from "Tristan & Isolde", for example, or Forest Murmers from "The Ring"? Nevertheless, you cannot really quibble at this top notch selection.
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on 27 July 2010
If after watching Stephen Fry's excellent documentary on Wagner, you wish to get to know his music, start here!
This is a great introduction to Wagner's music; sit back, relax and enjoy!
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on 20 December 2009
I bought it for a handful of my favourinte tunes and they do not disappoint!
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on 22 December 2009
Many of Wagner's contemporaries didn't take to his music and listening to some of his longer pieces I can feel with them. Today though Wagner's emotional power has entered popular appreciation. This selection focuses on the music that we all hear on the media without resorting to a Wagner opera.
It makes this point very easily and I find it a joy to listen to. There is no pretence of grandieur and it doesn't demand full attention. Instead it colours the chores, work or play that you happen to enjoy at the time with quite a range of emotions.
If you look for a more rounded classical music experience then buy a CD of an opera. This one is for the casual listener who gets fed up with pop and electronic instruments once in a while.
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on 19 April 2013
Not a big classical music fan but have had a passing interest in Wagner. This has introduced me to the music of Wagner and may encourage me to look at individual works e.g Tannhauser and The Ring
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on 7 June 2014
I learnt the trombone part for the Tanhauser overture whilst at school and found myself mentally playing the instrument again. Really great value for someone who doesn't want the full operas
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on 7 September 2012
this item arrived within a reasonable amount of time from placing the order. This is a nice classical music CD and good value for the price charged.
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on 5 January 2013
Once again I bought this for my son-in-law for his birthday. Previews of the tracks sounded very promising so I hope he liked it.
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