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Wagner: The Goodall Ring Cycle [ENGLISH LANGUAGE] Box set

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: Reginald Goodall
  • Audio CD (25 Jun. 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 16
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00005LZVY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 107,417 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Rhinegold
  2. The Valkyrie
  3. Siegfried
  4. Twilight of the Gods

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

This magnificent set of CDs - previously available as four separate releases - is a record in the original and most valuable sense of the term: live performances from the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera, made during that company's first great golden period and capturing for posterity one of their finest achievements: Wagner's huge Ring cycle of music-dramas, performed not by jet-setting international star names but by an ensemble company of (mostly) home-grown singers and orchestral players, the whole thing painstakingly, lovingly and thrillingly moulded by a shy little man whom next to nobody had heard of until the company brought him into the limelight.
Above everything else this is conductor Reginald Goodall's Ring; his knowledge and love of the music pervade every second. And then it's the singers' Ring: Rita Hunter, Alberto Remedios, Norman Bailey and so many others, performing with a lyrical and dramatic intensity which they rarely equalled elsewhere. And though I come to him last, perhaps it should have been first: this is writer Andrew Porter's Ring: few who were there as it was unveiled stage-by-stage will forget how his newly-commissioned English translation brought the conflict to such vivid life.
Of course, there are minor quibbles: some tempi are too slow and the pace falters; those who dislike such things should know that there are various stage (and occasionally off-stage) noises, thumps and bumps. An audience member who should have been taken out and shot blows his or her nose during one of the very quietest orchestral passages. But if you're in tune with the atmosphere, the excitement, the sheer sense of a great project triumphantly brought off - then it doesn't matter. None of it matters.
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The first thing to be said about this recording is that it is essential to listen to it with a good pair of headphones. A great many details and incidental effects are lost otherwise. As with the recordings by Karajan and Solti, so much can be missed if it is merely listened to 'in the background' as it were. Unlike those performances though, this is recorded live, but with a surprisingly intimate sound which makes one feel almost present. (Unusually, soft rumbles of laughter are audible in some of the wittier scenes with Alberich and Mime, which add to the sense of theatrical occasion.)
The second thing to say is, of course, that it is in English (though sung with a Welsh lilt by some of the cast througout). And although Andrew Porter's is by far the finest singing translation (the Barry Spencer version is probably slightly better for reading along with German performances), it inevitably misses some of the intended Wagnerian performance ethos. Inherently, there is no doubt that German sounds both more menacing and more metaphysical than English. Take the simple example of a crucial word like Schwert, and it's English equivalent, sword. Whereas the latter will well equip Sir Galahad in a tale of courtly love, the former alone sounds fit to eviscerate a fire-breathing dragon or shatter Wotan's world-ruling spear. Likewise Spitze, or as Andrew Porter has it: 'spear-point'. When the vengeful Brunnhilde swears her oath in Act II of Twilight of the Gods, her pledge of 'Spitze!' at the betrayal she feels from Siegfried at that moment, sounds immeasurably more venomous. The translation just doesn't sound as bitter. And there are numerous other examples that could be given. Most of all it is a question of music.
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I know that many of the wagnerians out there will scoff at this english ring, but many of them have never heard it and they should buy it and listen. It is a remarkable achievement played and sung with real life and vivacity. If you are really interested in the ring then you will like me buy this as part of your collection. As a first buy ring I do not think you can go wrong, as part of a collection you will be a fool not to buy it.

Remarkable, beautiful, vivacious and in english!! What the hell else do you want??
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I grew up in the 1970s listening to this Ring cycle. It stands out from all the other Wagner recordings that I have heard, including the abomination which was the German 1976 centenary Ring, which was complete with booes and hisses. Goodall brought out many melodies which can often be overlooked. The performances of Rita Hunter, Alberto Remedios and Norman Bailey have never been surpassed. Andrew Porter's translation works very well, to the extent that when I now hear a Ring in German, I remember Porter's words. Noone has ever surpassed Rita Hunter; only Gwynneth Jones is her equal. Emile Belcourt remains the benchmark by which I measure Loge's, and noone has done better since, and Gregory Dempsey is both comic and menacing as Mime "I'll simply chop off your head" he sings ingratiatingly, unaware that Siegfried can hear. The forging scene in Siegfried has some really blood-curdling Hoi-Hos from Remedios, just as it should be, and Fafner is very loud and convincing. I would especially recommend this Ring to a young person. This was a classic Ring, with none of the modern dress nonsense seen in the Cherraux Ring at Bayreuth, the recent R.O.H. cycle with Terfel, or the dreadful (and insulting to the memory of Wagner) current ENO production, with an exploding Brunnhilde. Bring back the 1970s/80s ENO Ring - it was a perfect combination of medieval costume and space age scenery. The Goodall ENO Ring was copied at R.O.H. in the early 80's, and included Remedios, Jones, Bailey and Altmeyer. It was perfect, as was the Goodall Ring.
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