This is a great combination of intelligent commentary well illustrated with numerous musical examples. It is strictly educational and not much fun for casual listening in the car.
He assumes you know the story but have no understanding of the music. However, it won't be beyond you even if you are a complete beginner and it will still have plenty to teach you even if you know the Ring quite well.
OnlineMusicFilmsGames is a great seller, item was in excellent condition and the package was made with great care. Deryck Cooke's Der Ring is a classical study of the leitmotifs and their transformations, so indispensable for an understanding of the cycle.
I would thoroughly recommend this CD set to anyone who is interested in the Leitmotif development in Wagner's music, and specifically those who really want to get into the bare bones of the composition of the Ring Cycle.
This is an illustrated talk about the Ring's musical motifs using illustrations mostly from the Solti DECCA recording, but with some special recordings. I found it fascinating. Although I already had a good basic understanding of the Ring and its structure, I was anazed at the musical relationships _between_ so many of the motifs. Cooke also gives to 'worked examples' of orchestral extracts built from many motifs. The book contains the annotated music for all the 193 musical examples used in the talk.
These two CDs, narrated by the musician and critic Deryck Cooke, 1919-76, owe much to the penetrating and accessible ‘Talking About Music’ programme, narrated over four decades by Antony Hopkins, 1921-2014, for most of the time on BBC Third Programme.
However, Cooke has the advantage of George Solti’s complete recording of the work to fall back on as well as specially-recorded excerpts where, for clarity, the orchestral music is heard without the accompanying vocal line. The motifs, original and transformed, are clearly linked to the appropriate audio track and the relevant musical notation printed in the brochure.
The recording was made in 1967, two years after the completion of the seven-year long marathon of Solti’s iconic performance. Cooke’s very English contemporary style may be too academic for some and his pronunciation of the Valkyries’ ‘Heiajaheia’ is very careful indeed. He covers not just 193 examples of leitmotifs and their transformations but also descriptions of their context and the psychological and musical need for, and nature of, the transformations.
There are also repetitions of earlier motifs to facilitate understanding, particularly helpful for those of a certain age. Cooke’s brilliance lies not just in his deep knowledge [he corrects conventional opinion about the so-called ‘Flight’ motif, seeing this more relevant to ‘Freia’] and his logical organisation and analysis, but also in knowing just how much to say and doing this in a manner that, almost impossibly, is relevant to the Wagner specialist and novice alike.
As one who never learned musical notation, the detailed analyses of this music in innumerable books remains a closed door so I am clearly not alone in finding these two CDs a marvelous key. Few will sit and listen to each disc right through or engage in a ‘tickbox’ exercise but, as part of a process to gain a greater understanding of this ultimate wok of musical drama, it is admirable. It helps increase one’s appreciation of Wagner’s ambition and delivery, and offers great personal pleasure in recognising some of these motifs during performances on record or in the theatre.
As an introduction ‘to the thematic structure of the Ring as it relates to the symbolic structure of the stage drama’ this really cannot be bettered and it will help listeners make individual judgements on how successfully they think that individual conductors express both the individual motifs and also integrate them within the overall music drama.
This recording is a lecture demonstration of motivic development in Wagner's great work "The Ring of the Nibelungs." The composer Deryck Cooke presents a number of lectures demonstrating the main motives and their derivatives, tying in the dramatic and psychological associations. This may sound deadly dull, but it is quite entertaining. The excerpts are from the great Decca/Solti/Vienna recording. Special sections were also arranged to better highlight some of the motives by leaving out foreground elements. The format repeats the main motives whenever necessary to remind us what they sound like before playing some distant cousin. I was ready for the project of listening to be quite taxing, but was surprised to find it to be a pleasure. It is a "must have" for any Ring enthusiast.
This may look an intimidating, daunting and dull prospect - a 2+ hour lecture on the motifs in the Ring. Don't be put off. Whether you're a relative novice to the Ring and want to find out what it's all about, more experienced with a desire to understand the composer's methods better or an afficionado who thinks he knows it all inside out, there is great pleasure as well as elucidation to be had from this set. Originally made to accompany the Decca Solti Ring, it contains a multitude of musical illustrations taken from those recordings as well as some specially recorded by Solti just for this Introduction.
It wasn't the first time this has been tried. The famous HMV sets from the late 20's also included recorded examples of over 100 motifs. (These, by the way, are available as part of the Pearl reissue of those wonderful HMV recordings). What that set lacked was the wonderful insights as well as the approachability of the talk by Deryck Cooke. Cooke was a great and much missed musicologist - a Mahler expert responsible for the performing edition of the Tenth Symphony still most played today, a fascinating explorer into the nature of music's basic building-blocks in his excellent book, The Language of Music, and an inspiring and elucidating critic of Wagner's work as shown by the fascinating book he left unfinished at his death, I Saw the World End.
On these CDs he does much more than list the leitmotifs and identify them as calling-cards. He shows the amazingly integrated and organic growth of the musical material that Wagner uses throughout his vast work. He demonstrates how motifs can change their sense and meaning as they evolve through the drama. And he shows how the complex combinations of motifs can radically advance both the musical and the dramatic narrative of the piece. There are even places where he corrects the misinterpretation of some of the motifs that had become ingrained from early commentators' false labels.
This set should engage and enlighten anyone with an interest in Wagner's huge and inexhaustible tetralogy. Do give it a try - no matter how far down the road to Wagnerianism you are.
Whether you are a Wagner virgin or an experienced Ring goer, this masterly lecture is simply essential. It is the best guide I know to the families of leitmotifs. Whilst some of the connections are unsurprising, others are far from obvious The analysis of the prelude to Act 3 of Siegfried alone is worth the price of the discs. Listening to this lecture again befofe each hearing of the whole cycle enhances ones enjoyment of and understanding of it. Inevitably a 2 hour lecture cannot provide all the answers. Sadly Derryck did not live to finish his book "I saw the World End" and to provide his answer to some of the more difficult questions e.g. why the so-called "Renunciation of Love" motif reappears just before Siegmund pulls the sword out of the ash tree in Walkure Act 1 and when Brunnhilde in Gotterdammerung Act 1 glorying in the Ring as Siegfried's love token tells Waltraute she will never give it up and they will have to kill her to take it from her
This gives such valuable insight into the way in which the musical themes of the Ring flow consistently throughout the cycle, some of which are obvious, but many more not so. I wish I had discovered it years ago. It also helps that is is based on what is for many of us the much loved and definitive performance, the Decca Ring.
What a wonderful introduction any one can have of The Ring. The singers on this CD have the magic and presentation to fulfil the roles they are singing. Sir George Solti conducting what more could one want.