Wagner - 'Der Ring' Ohne Worte / 'The Ring' Without Words
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This disc is a unique synthesis of orchestral music from Wagner's Ring cycle. Arranged by Lorin Maazel, this recording includes all the standard Ring orchestral excerpts such as Ride of the Valkyries and Siegfried's Rhine Journey.
Lorin Maazel, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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Musically, I am not sure this was a good choice as my first Wagner disc. I like what I hear, but overall there's no hiding that it's a lash up of bits - there's no overall flow or sense of cohesiveness and I am sure I can here some very bad edits.
Other than that, I suppose I have the usual gripes about exclusion. My main issue is with the Siegfried excerpts. Firstly, there is proportionally much less of Siegfried than there is of the rest of the Cycle, and, most unhappily in my view, nothing from Act 3, where that drama's best music is concentrated (this is more than just 'my opinion' - Wagner began Act 3 with all the experience he had gained from writing Tristan and Die Meistersinger, after all). It would not have been difficult to extend the recording by ten more minutes, or drop the comparatively dull dragon stuff, to include the Act 3 prelude and, most important of all, some of the wonderful climactic love scene. I believe that the music Siegfried and Brunnhilde share there is among the most ecstatic not just in the Ring, but the whole world.
That said, however, we do get a good deal of great music. Worth purchasing either if you're new to Wagner, and would like an easy way into the Ring Cycle, or an old hand who fancies the idea of a bite-sized 'Ring Symphony' which can be listened through at one's convenience.The recording does a pretty good job of what it says on the tin. But of course, there's nothing like the full fifteen hours of music drama - after all, if you haven't already heard the Rhinemaiden motif sung by Woglinde and the 'redemption through love' motif sung by Sieglinde, the finale loses half of its power straight away.
Rossini also said that Wagner has some wonderful moments and some dreadful quarters of an hour, and this disc seems to contain quite a few of his wonderful moments. I'm in no position to judge the quality of the interpretation, but the playing is very good and the recorded sound is nicely done, so if you're a Wagner sceptic like me, this may be a disc worth trying. I shall certainly come back to it; I doubt that it will lead on to a love of Wagner, but it's a start.
Some true Wagnerians may regard this recording (and me, come to that) as a contemptible abomination, but I rather like it.
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