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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 November 2012
At the time of writing there are 2 brief reviews awarding this 2 disc set 5 stars. Not only do I find this astonishing, but I'm perplexed as to whom this set proposes to attract. Granted that there are fans of "bleeding chunks" of the Ring rather than the whole edifice, and there are those who admire several of the artists involved, but I don't think many of either group will be satisfied with this collection for a variety of reasons, some of them rather sad. One obvious constituency is those who attended the performances, either at the Met or at one of the cinema broadcasts-but they are comparatively few.
The first basic reason is that with a few exceptions, these are not extracts but snippets, some lasting less than 2 minutes-and in the extracts of longer duration, there is not always much to be admired.
The Rheingold extracts are downright irritating they are so brief, until we get to Heda! Heda Hedo! through to the end of the opera. The prelude is excellent as are the Rhinemaidens and Alberich, but Terfel's voice has deteriorated alarmingly, with an uncontrolled vibrato frequently forcing him off pitch. There is an interesting sounding Loge-briefly-and when Donner's hammer strikes, it sounds like he's hit the bell at a fairground "test your strength by ringing the bell" contraption. It's beautifully played and recorded, Levine is excellent but it is all so disjointedly brief and unsatisfying. Walkure fairs better-we get "Wintersturme " through to the end of Act One, swiftly played and well sung by Kaufmann-though I've heard him better-and with a pretty good Sieglinde from Westbroek. Kaufmann brings the house down with his final "Walsungen Blut ". He and the orchestra are not always together, and he has to play "catch up" a couple of times.
We then get a very fast, very brief intro to Act 2-not brief enough I'm afraid.
Terfel is better in 2011 than for Rheingold a year earlier, though he chokes and strains on the final notes of the Feuerzauber, but we are in real trouble as soon as Voight enters. Her voice has basically-gone! She produces a nasal caterwauling that is tragic to hear from this great singer who has thrilled and delighted so often in the past. It is no coincidence that her appearances on this set are brief. We do get the final scene complete, but Terfel is no better than OK-ish-and he did it much better for Abbado on his extracts disc with the Berlin Phil.
The sad elements are that this is likely to be the Swansong of James Levine, certainly in Wagner, as he is beset by health problems, and a deep sadness in hearing once great artists such as Terfel and in particular Voight deteriorating so badly-yet still being cast by the Met!
The Siegfried and Gotterdammerung extracts are also ridiculous-brief snippets of the Forging Song and Forest Murmurs well enough sung particularly by the "stand-in" Siegfried replacing Gary Lehman (thank goodness!),though he sounds uncomfortably like Mime, a "chopped " Hagen's watch leading into a snippet again from the Chorus of Vassals without Hagen's HoiHo, with even the magnificent Koenig sounding tired and a bit grainy!. Pointless. Siegfried's Death scene is complete, but ruined by some really ungainly gulping and straining from Morris's Siegfried, undermining this sublime passage.
The Funeral Music and the very end of a strangulated Immolation are swiftly breezed through under the unidiomatic baton of Fabio Lusi.
The orchestral sound is great, but precision is often lacking. Levine's breathless "Walkurenritt" is well sung, but as elsewhere catches the orchestra out.
There is not a single track on this collection to which I would willingly return, and here is the final barb-I WAS at a performance of Walkure at the Met in 2011-and though the experience itself was great and memorable, the performance was not, and this is all too sad a reminder of that!
I cannot imagine anyone wanting this particular selection of snippets and extracts, but such are standards today that there will be some who think this is great Wagner singing. I'm not one of them. A sad ending to James Levine's recording career, an artist for whom I have utmost admiration and a depressing situation with Voight in particular-it tells you a lot about a Ring when the least featured character is Brunnhilde! I think 2 stars is the right award, but because the snippets of Rheingold in particular, Terfel excepted, are so well sung and played, such as they are, I'll award a generous 3 stars! I hope others will enjoy this more than I have! Stewart Crowe.
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on 23 April 2013
I already have 4 complete Ring CD sets and 2 DVD sets, but after seeing the live HD broadcasts of this production I couldn't resist this highlights CD. This set has brought me outstanding pleasure. Why? Simply because the performers here are about the best you can get and in some cases they are superlative.

The gleaming jewel here is Deborah Voigt. Her Brunnhilde sounds fresh voiced and youthful whilst still packing a punch and having all the heft the role demands. I totally disagree with a comment on the US Amazon that her lower range is ineffectual.

Likewise, Jay Hunter Morris makes a thoroughly convincing Siegfried. Heroic, dashing and gloriously sung with precision of pitch, unaffected by the ugly vibrato present in some performances. Kaufmann, Terfel and Westbroek are all first rate too.

The drawback of this set (and this will be more acute should the whole cycle appear on CD) is that there are two conductors - Levine for Rheingold and Walkure, Luisi for Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. Thus, the cycle is denied a holistic and unified musical vision. Nevertheless, these are thrillng performances and my only quibble is that the strings of the Met orchestra are a little too syrupy for my taste in parts.

A good highlights CD should leave you begging for the entire thing and this is certainly the case here. For most Ring enthusiasts, the highlight of the entire cycle is Brunnhilde's Immolation and it is terribly disappointing to have only 7 minutes or so of this. Nevertheless, we have the DVD to fall back on. Voigt is simply electrifying!
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on 10 March 2013
Like it or loathe it this Ring Cycle was innovative and stirring. A stellar cast together with two world class conductors leading probably the best "house band" of the modern era - the Met Opera Orchestra. I only hope DG releases this Ring in its entirity. Even though this is a live recording none of the quality is lost. Its a must for Wagner: 200! I intend to buy the accompanying DVD's bring on the CD box set!
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on 12 October 2013
I am a Wagner fan and this is a really good introduction to the Wagner world.
Kaufman is excellent as usual, the rest, although excellent singers, didn't convince me.
Normally, I don't like life recordings, but this is one of the better ones.
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on 20 September 2012
Another bleeding chunks double Wagner Ring CD. Got to listen to it in the car and was blown away.

The orchestra sound so sumptuous throughout with a lot of detail coming through.
Jonas Koufmann's siegmund is out of this world. The ending of Walkure act one nearly had me on my feet clapping, but I was driving so just joined in the chearing with the met audience. Fantastic.

Only problem now is do I buy the full set on CD that must come out or get the Blu-ray discs?
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on 14 August 2013
Unfortunately I mixed up this recording with that of Karajan which I enjoyed immensely because of the wonderful artists he had chosen. This recording however I found most disappointing save the wonderful, glorious voice of Jonas Kaufmann. I found the women's voices shrill and unpleasant, Wotan weak and wobbly with absolutely no depth, the other voices not very impressive.this recording does not, in my opinion, compare with that of Janowsky.I am not unhappy that I bought it as Jonas Kaufmann is such a impressive and sensitive Sigmund.UKR
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on 15 October 2012
A compilation that captures the feel of this great production. We saw the performances (sadly not live but at the cinema) and this captures the spirit. Very good sound quality. GREAT SINGERS....the best!
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on 1 December 2013
Bought as a gift for a family member, very well packaged, very good price,,very pleased.
I use Amazon for all my album gifts
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on 31 January 2016
great
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on 7 December 2012
I couldn't get the whole ring in cd so I compromised with the Highlights, which I ordinarily dislike. Worth to hear Kauffman singing Sigmund, otherwise go for the Solti ring.
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