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An excellent Ring at a bargain price
on 7 August 2011
This is not going to be a long review - another reviewer has referred to the long and informative reviews of the 2007 incarnation of this recording, which I read myself and found very helpful. I hovered for some time between this recording and the alternatives from New York and Copenhagen, and have no regrets from choosing this one.
I've got as far as the second act of Siegfried and the performances of the main actors range from good to excellent. John Tomlinson's Wotan has been universally praised and I see why, but I was also very impressed by Graham Clark as a wonderfully camp Loge in Rheingold and a scheming, snivelling yet almost likeable Mime in Siegfried. Incidentally, how nice to see Brits doing so well in some of the major parts - Tomlinson and Anne Evans in the final act of Walkure bring tears to the eyes.
I like the way the production and scenery keep the actors moving around, left, right, up and down. This is not a Ring where the actors just stand and sing at each other, and they're all the better for it. The more fantastical events, eg the Ride of the Valkyries, Siegfried fighting the dragon Fafner, are no more believable than in other productions, but without CGI how can they be? This Ring dates from 1991-92, and even today, how do you combine CGI with live people on a stage?
I must also mention the Bayreuth orchestra, in the capable hands of Daniel Barenboim. It's just there, supporting the actors, propelling the action, just as Wagner intended. One hardly ever notices the tempi, so they must be about right. I did think the first few exchanges between Siegmund and Sieglinde were a bit on the slow side, but that could just be me.
Finally, at £45 this set is on offer at a third of the 2007 price. Snap it up while it's still available!