11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Wagner - a mixed bag, and only almost complete.,
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This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
This set is one of the upsides of the concentration of the old competing recording companies into two groups. It enables DG, Decca, Philips, and it appears, BBC licensing, to be drawn on to compile blockbusters for - one hopes - carefully chosen markets and to exploit the less obvious properties in some vaults. I can't claim to have listened to everything on offer in the box, but I do know why I bought it. The BBC in the seventies put on uncut versions of Wagner's first three operas - Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot, and Rienzi, under the late Edward Downes, whose virtues I have to confess I was rather too slow to appreciate in my younger days, when in two successive seasons I heard first Solti and then Downes conduct the Covent Garden Arabella - Solti with Della Casa and Fischer-Dieskau like quicksilver on ice, and Downes, with Joan Carlyle, like Oregon pine. I'm not sure how I'd react now - Oregon pine has staying power. This set includes two of them, but doesn't give us a complete Rienzi, which latter in all conscience is a mixed blessing. But I was glad to get Die Feen, which has risen to an enormous online price, (over twice the current (Jan 2013) UK Amazon price for the whole box), and Das Liebesverbot which was going the same way.
Otherwise the largest chunk is James Levine's Ring, which matched only too well a fairly conventional staging 20 years ago and more, and is certainly reliable, but set beside what this conductor was capable of at his peak - his Lulu, for example - is a disappointment. We get the Jochum-Fischer-Dieskau Meistersinger, (in which Jochum is at his considerable best) and the underestimated Solti Parsifal and Lohengrin. Sinopoli and Carlos Kleiber in the Dutchman and Paris Tannhauser, and Tristan respectively complete the set. I don't know that I would depend on this set for much of my future Wagner listening, (and it should certainly have gone the whole hog on Downes and included his Rienzi), but Carlos Kleiber's Tristan fears no comparisons and Sinopoli is certainly worth hearing more than once. The Amazon price is declining since release date. Draw your own conclusions.