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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wagnerian Caddyshack - Slobs v the Snobs, 12 Jun 2013
This review is from: Wagner - 'Der Ring' Ohne Worte / 'The Ring' Without Words (Audio CD)
I am a pretender in Wagner and abjectly so. I am not alone. We are legion. Here on Amazon, I could nominate a dozen or so reviewers who really know their stuff. As someone once said to me: unless you long in your bones for the first act of Siegfried - a bridge too far if you ask me - you cannot count yourself a Wagnerian. Keep your distance from the Green Hill and those spartan seats!

I live in terror of the day when the angry (and super-heated) ghost of Winifred Wagner materialises in my living-room and demands to audit my collection. Discs such as the Ring without Words broadcast my status as a pretender. It's as bad as Liszt for Lovers or Mozart & Marshmellows. Nevertheless I will risk Winifred's ire. I won't part with my decades-old copy of Ring without Words. Love is mine.

Contrary to all expectations, Uncle Lorin takes us on a journey and successfully so. One soon gets swept up in the torrent. The transitions are not ineptly handled. More pertinently, where else are you going to hear some swaggering virtuosity married to poetic insight? Wotan's Farewell almost melts through the floor - how did the Berlin Phil do it? How did they ever do it? Much the same could be said of Dawn, Hagen's Call to his Vassals and the Funeral March itself: the sheer intensity of the music-making nullifies whatever reservations one might have.

The Teldec recording is in the demonstration class. One could argue that it is the label's greatest single disc.

It is also an important historical document. It was recorded in December 1987 towards the end of Karajan's reign. The Berlin Phil is still at its resplendent best. For those who glut themselves on its saturated fat, this is the most sybaritic of feasts. No matter how resoundingly the brass and timpani thunder forth , the strings are always `there'. Moreover, it is not Karajan at the helm: the Klang must have been intrinsic to their DNA at the time. A year after Herbie's death, the Berlin Philharmonic recorded Mozart's Mass in C Minor with Abbado. More and more, I am coming to view the latter as a seminal recording. It documents the degradation of the Berlin Phil from a cosmic phenomenon to just another first rate orchestra - their current status today.

Defy Winifred and her brood! Lap up the decadence! Revel in the bleeding chunks!

What a disc!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Apr 2014 20:01:02 BDT
D. S. CROWE says:
Oi Vey Bernard. I agree with 90% of your review-playing, recording conducting and also about the state we're in today- nor am I such a Wagner Purist that despite loving the First Act of Siegfried to distraction that I cannot contemplate a concoction like this- but it IS bloody awful! I wince at so many of the trite transitions, and this is one of the recordings ( along with the Lloyd Webber/ Puccini Requiecrap) for which I have to forgive him ( but then in context I really love his BRSO Bruckner set! ). May I commend the Darlington Wagner Ring confection I reviewed with the Duisburg Phil- I kid you not - sounding every bit like Karajan's BPO?. It's not Winnie the Witch that worries me- it's Cosima collaring me in the afterlife! As ever, S.

Posted on 14 Apr 2014 21:32:58 BDT
Mate, no worries. As you know, I am a pretender in Wagner (and more so than usual).

Could one suggest that Cosima has other things to worry about in the afterlife than such considerations?

Best wishes, B
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

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