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4.9 out of 5 stars
Wagner: An Introduction to Der Ring des Nibelungen
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£19.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 13 June 2017
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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 October 2015
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.
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VINE VOICEon 16 August 2006
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.
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on 8 September 2000
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.
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on 22 July 2015
Endlessly fascinating. Full of insight. Essential listening.
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VINE VOICEon 26 May 2008
Excellent accompaniment to The Ring

This explanation of the many recurring leitmotifs in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen is more than a mere playing of them (using Decca's own Solti Ring Cycle). Rather, it introduces the main ideas of the Ring Cycle using the motifs and then explains how they are transformed in to other forms so as to provide a musical narrative (Wagner's intention) to the action of the opera. There is something to learn here for everybody, and hearing Deryck Cooke's (an expert musicologist who prepared a performing version of Mahler's unfinished tenth symphony) voice guiding us through this minefield is most reassuring. A light knowledge of the story of the cycle is useful but not essential and one does not need to be conversant in musical terminology to understand what Cooke is on about.

This set would make an excellent present for any Wagner-phile, old or new, and is an excellent introduction even for a novice... do not be put off.
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on 4 October 2011
This is a truly fascinating lecture explaining the Ring motifs by the professional musicologist. Illustrated by music citations from Solti's Ring, it provides a pure joy for the listener plus the "evolutionary" perspective of the motifs. They are not presented by their order of appearance in the four operas, but the narration guides the listener through the way Wagner constructed his music, changing one motif into another, etc.
Wow ! this disgusting crook, antisemitic seducer of his friend's wives, the favourite composer of Hitler was a true genius, and after listening to this CD set you will exactly know why.
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on 4 July 2012
A really fascinating insight into the motifs of the Ring Cycle which can only enhance enjoyment. I can thoroughly recommend this recording.
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