9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Well-performed all around, with slight reservations,
This review is from: Richard Wagner - The Complete Operas (Audio CD)
I am not going to comment on the quality of the music, as all that needs to be said is that it is Wagner.
All of the recordings are at least of an acceptable standard. Many of the recordings are very good. The recording of the Ring has powerful sopranos and robust contraltos and basses. The lyrical sopranos in the earlier operas are sublime and charming. Most of the recordings are Bayreuth Festival recordings, the 'Meistersinger' recording is conducted by Karajan and the 'Tristan und Isolde' recording is from Covent Garden, conducted by Furtwangler. Unfortunatly, the recording of 'Der Fliegende Hollander' is awful. The quality of the performance is okay, but the sound quality makes A.M. Radio sound like Dolby Digital, resulting in hissing, faint parts of the orchestra and peaking in many places. I would recommend buying another one (such as the Levine Met. recording). 'Parsifal' is the definitive Beyreuth 1951 revival recording, but this does mean that it includes various unwanted noises, especially coughing, which has an annoying habit of occuring just in the quiet and sublime parts. The singing can't be faulted though. The lead tenor in 'Tannhauser' also has a very reedy voice, in my opinion. I have no complaints against the performances of the other recordings. The recording of 'Rienzi' is abridged, however this doesn't matter as it is not a particularly well-known or Wagnerian opera anyway. Also, these are very quiet recordings. I am not commenting on the performances (they are as loud as Wagner should be), but you will have to adjust your volume controls from what you normally have them as. There are also no little booklets which you get when you buy C.D. operas individually, which give libretti, although there are ones which briefly detail the history of the operas and give a plot synopsis, in multiple languages. You can probably get the libretti online anyway, though.
My recommendation with this is that you should buy it if you love Wagner, but also consider buying other recordings, as these will not be to everyone's tastes.