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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2007
If like me you're fascinated but put off by the scale of Wagner, this is the disc for you. Though one or two bridge passages sound a bit awkward, Maazel has managed to weave the main orchestral themes of all four mammoth operas into one seamless work. Devoid of any singing, the music is nevertheless authentic Wagner, painted on a vast canvas. You will hear some familiar and not-so-familiar themes sweeping past in majestic pageant, beginning with the creation (the longest chord in music), and ending in the apocalyptic destruction of Valhalla.

By the way, you don't need to know the story (but it helps).

This is an exciting, emotional journey. And there is still plenty of time to go down the pub afterwards.
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on 19 October 2009
I love listening to the orchestral music of Richard Wagner because it is extremely powerful and moving and Wagner is one of the masters of the gradual emotional buildup and release. I have quite a few recordings of Wagner's orchestral music, overtures and preludes but the one I end up coming back most often to is The Ring Without Words. Music from the Ring is incredible and no lyrics are needed here, regardless how poetic and gentle the language could have sounded. I find this recording to be of a very good quality of tone and I really like the arrangements which sort of compiles it all nicely. Ring Without Words is my favorite tale of the story told.
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on 10 July 2013
This is a relatively minor complaint, but it bugged me quite a bit so I thought I'd mention it. Whoever at Telarc was responsible for taking this recording and putting it out as a product just doesn't know the Ring Cycle. The tracklist is simply guesswork from Maazel's synopsis. The second excerpt may be based on the Valhalla motif, but in fact it is the transition to scene 2 of the drama, and not, as advertised, the climactic 'Entrance of the Gods'. Likewise, while we hear both Wotan's Farewell and the Magic Fire Music, they are not to be found on the same track: the latter is found on the following track, advertised as 'Mime's Fright'. Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that we do indeed hear Siegfried's Forest Wanderings - I say surprised, because the passage in question is advertised as an excerpt from Act 1, when the Forest Wanderings occur in Act 2! My advice is that you ignore the tracklist and follow Maazel's own delightfully eloquent synopsis.
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.
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on 31 March 2008
Very Good Interpretation, Really Good Sound Quality! Wagner's Ring Cycle can be very hard going for some with all the opera singers going full pelt but THIS IS 100% ORCHESTRA ONLY!!! There is NO vocal work here - and I prefer it - You can hear all the Epic arrangements more profoundly (Im sure purists will disagree but Im new to this!)
My personal favourite Act is Gotterdammerung - Really heavy and powerful -
Siegfried's Funeral is a piece ive had a love affair with since i first heard it used on the 1981 movie, Excalibur (classic).
Id recommend this for anyone new to Wagner or Classical generally and its a must if like me you like the darker stuff (Im principally a Metal fan but if you read my other reviews you'll definiteley see how i went from Metallica to this).
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on 12 June 2013
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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on 31 January 2008
In all seriousness, this is a great addition for any Wagner fan. It could be called "The Ring Symphony". The playing is fabulous as you would expect from the Berlin Phil and conductor Lorin is a Wagnerian. The sound quality is exceptional considering no remastering (1988 original)it doesnt need it. great for a quick Wagner fix!
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on 14 December 2012
Somebody said here that this would be a great addition to their Wagner collection. I doubt it. However it's a great introduction for a beginner. I bought this because I knew little about Wagner apart from the ride of the Valkyries and I thought I ought to know a bit more. I sat down with a glass of plonk and within minutes I was blown away by the amazing overture and the rest. Within a week I'd bought a 2 cd collection. And now I have the entire ring on CD and have seen die Walkure at the cinema (recording of the Met production). I'm hopelessly addicted. To get your head round the Cycle must take years but it's a great journey and I'm loving it. This was a fantastic introduction and I endorse it totally. My one complaint is the weird and unhelpful descriptions of each's as if the theatrical German of the late 19th century has been translated literally into English: eg " In The Sound Code, We 'See' His Loving Gaze". Still, don't let that put you off
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VINE VOICEon 28 September 2015
Wagner's Ring cycle must be very trying for even the most patient of listeners. As such I am grateful that conductors and arrangers have come up with stand-alone concert arrangements and even CD-length syntheses of excerpts from the operas in the cycle.

Maazel got the ball rolling when Telarc suggested he put together a jumbo-sized Ring suite and record it as a CD with the Berliners. Up until then most people who wanted a taste of the Ring without words could get recordings of the concert arrangements that Herrman Zumpe prepared during Wagner's lifetime. These were stand-alone excerpts and did not quite gel well together into a whole. Maazel's potted Ring was the first such synthesis that I know of at this date of writing. Since then, Henk de Vlieger and Friedmann Dressler have come up with similar jumbo-sized Ring suites.

My general impression of Maazel's synthesis is that it seems better at conveying the various moods of the opera than of telling the story. He is generous in including many well-known passages, but at times the joins are sudden and clunky. As such the brushstrokes are not exactly smooth. Also, I note that at times Maazel's selection might not be where the action is. We hear a chunk of Wotan's farewell to Brunnhilde but not the Magic Fire because the music dissolves so abruptly into the Siegfried stretch. That said, I find that the synthesis is stronger in the second half than in the first.

This particular compilation gets off to a shaky start after the Rhinegold prelude. It cuts straight to the first iteration of the Valhalla theme rather than to the opening scene with the Rhinemaidens. To my mind, the use of the first iteration of the Valhalla theme overlooks the pyrrhic victory that was achieved when the gods built it. In the Zumpe concert arrangement we hear the theme in its last iteration in this opera and it might be more apt to use this instance and context in a Ring synthesis like this. After the music for the Nibelheim dwarfs, Donner's thunderbolt dissolves rather abruptly into the storm at the start of The Valkyrie. Another abrupt dissolution comes after Wotan's farewell to Brunnhilde. That scene cuts off before Wotan calls Loge to surround Brunnhilde's rock with the magic fire. However, things wake up from the Forest Murmurs stretch. I don't mind the omission of the "Siegfried cadenza" in which he plays his horn before he kills Fafner. The Twilight of the Gods sequence fares best. It presents Hagen's horn call, the vassals' chorus, and Siegfried's scene with the Rhinemaidens. It might have been good if the suite had skipped over Siegfried's recollections of how he woke Brunnhilde before he dies. The stronger Twilight of the Gods stretch lifts this compilation in the second half.

I know that there are rough spots in this compilation, but Maazel is still to be commended for making the Ring palatable. No complaints about the playing of the Berliners and the superb Telarc recording. So I give credit for encouraging others to follow suit with their own jumbo-sized Ring suites. Since Maazel's suite came out, Henk de Vleiger and Friedmann Dressler have produced similar Ring suites. Dressler's version seems to be modelled on Maazel's suite, offering more music and getting close to the heart of the action. Still, this disc is readily affordable compoared to the recent SACDs of Ring syntheses. In an ideal world, a Ring suite would bring out the narrative more clearly. The Dressler and de Vlieger suite do a better job at highlighting the narrative. I tend to like De Vlieger's suite better, But I'm not slagging off Maazel for its weaknesses. In any case, let's be grateful that he opened the door for others to present their potted versions of the Ring.
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on 30 September 2013
Each item ends abruptly which makes continuous listening unpleasant for music that is well recorded but poorly edited. Could have done with a fade plus pause after each snippet. However, Das Rheingold is awesome; beautifully conducted by Maazel.
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on 28 November 2006
hi all. well i guess the purists will poo poo this one right off the bat. fortunatly, i'm not a purist, because this cd is fantastic. its basically the orcestral highlights woven into a single you dont get the bad timing of the usual versions of ring highlights.i dont go for opera really but wagner is something special. wish they'ld do other stuff like this.
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