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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
12
4.6 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 26 November 2013
This is a truly worthy addition to the 200th birthday celebrations, excellently priced and full of superb performances. For me the(wholly unexpected) highlights were:

Rienzi (Rene Kollo, Hollreiser, et al). Like most music lovers I only knew the fantastic overture and was ready to be bored and disappointed by such early Wagner. In fact this is a terrific performance of an unjustly neglected grand opera - what a pity the great man did not write more in this mode. In this frenetic and committed performance (like hyper-inflated Verdi) the absurd plot flew by and I was drawn into the internecine strife of medieval Rome by the sheer brilliance and bravado of the performances - the Chorus were superb, the orchestra splendid, even the smallest role sung blazingly and the principals brilliant. I ended up moved by Rienzi's downfall and enthralled by the journey to it.

Flying Dutchman Klemperer and the BBC Chorus were unbelievably and unfailingly terrific in this highly charged and brilliantly sung performance. Klemperer (belying his reputation) rips through the story at breakneck speed and with searing intensity - totally thrilling. The best finale I have ever heard (and a terrific Steuermann as one of many incidentl delights)

Tannhauser - I have previously found this a rather tedious opera, but in the hands of Bernard Haitink and the superb line up this was truly moving, with all the characters vividly alive, and again a superb chorus (Wiener Staatsoper).

Lohengrin. Rudolf Kempe and Jess Thomas (both rather undervalued I think) make this an outstanding Lohengrin, with teriffic chorus work and superb sound.

Tristan and Isolde. I thought this was going to be the dud, with an aged Domingo. In fact he makes a really rather good Tristan and Nina Stemme is in my view the best Isolde on record - caught here at the height of her considerable powers.

Parsifal in the wondrous hands of that greatest of British Wagnerians Reginald Goodall does not disappoint. A deeply powerful experience and Warren Ellsworth a delight as a genuinely youthful hero. One of the great performances and a must for any serious Wagnerian to own.
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on 17 March 2013
At AMAZON's current asking price (less that 1 Pound per CD!) this set is an unbeatable bargain. Most of the recordings are well known and highly respected. Indeed, 3 (DUTCHMAN, LOHENGRIN and MEISTERSINGER) have rightfully made their way into EMI's GROC Series. I would rate Haitink's TANNHAEUSER the best recording of the Dresden version.

Hollreiser's RIENZI will give those curious about early Wagner more than a sufficient taste of what this grand score is all about. While the Downes BBC production is marginally better, it's going to be hard to find. There may be more generally preferable recordings of both TRISTAN and PARSIFAL, but the recordings in this bargain box have some real virtues of their own.

The Sawallisch RING also has its many admirers and detractors. Point is, value for money, it is definitely worthwhile. Don't let a lack of librettos deter you, they are widely available elsewhere and can be printed at home, or downloaded onto an iPad, etc. If you are reading this from the USA (where I am located) don't hesitate buying from AMAZON.UK. This item arrived in 10 days, beautifully packaged.
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on 20 April 2013
At first blush I was tempted to ask: who buys the complete Wagner operas in one fell swoop, if one doesn't already have any? Is it this person to whom this box is being aimed? For completists, who wish to acquire all the operas? Or those who wish to try alternative performances and who simply can't go wrong at the price? (But check the sellers, as Amazon's own introductory price has rocketed since the set first became available.) In reality, it could be all.

With the exception of Rienzi, which I know only by the Overture, I have all the other operas, and with the Ring about 5 recordings if one includes a couple on DVD. Somewhat amazingly, none of my other performances are replicated in this box set and many of my other versions aren't on CD. So with the ridiculously low price at the time of purchase a couple of months ago, 32£, it wasn't a difficult decision to add this box set to my Wagner collection.

I am fortunate in that whilst I do have some "favourites", usually down to the singers, I can happily listen to performances by different performers/conductors and appreciate each for what it provides. A different approach here, or there, can often provide an insight into a work that is missed if one slavishly only listens to a narrow range, or even single recording. A different balance between singers and orchestra, or even within the orchestra itself, one can hear nuances that some recordings may not project to the same degree, but by the same token, those recordings may have their own issues.

With this set, and given it is still available from some Amazon sellers at a bargain price, I don't think it makes any sense to compare with this and that other specific performance. For one single reason: your opinion can so easily differ from mine. So, with one very minor exception, there really isn't a duff performance here of the mainstream Wagner. Having no alternative version of Rienzi with which to compare, I'll get my one disappointment out of the way: the overture. This is oddly balanced with most of the brass on the left and is quite subdued. This does tend to leave a "hole" on the right when the overture is in full swing, and any brass that is there seems only to be an echo of that playing on the left. There are some sub-sonic rumblings early one and which are easily heard on quality headphones and full range speakers. Needless to say, I have heard far better performances and recordings of what is really a fine overture for an early work. But this is a tiny niggle considering what is on offer here.

Any downsides? Well, no libretti, but at this ridiculously low price for 11 operas, it isn't surprising.
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on 18 January 2016
A bargain,to be sure,and added to my huge collection of anniversary issues.Is every recording here the ultimate?Can there ever be an ultimate?The Dutchman is superb.Meistersinger and Lohengrin,of course the same.The Ring?I have many,and maybe not a version I would have purchased singly,but worthwhile.I may come to admire it more,in time.Goodall's Parsifal is one of the slower ones,but thankfully not as slow as Levine,who has his moments of beauty,but makes you wait so long for them.Rienzi is lesser known,and we should be thankful for its inclusion here,it rarely appears in boxes of this nature(Die Feen doesn't make it,no great loss,really).Tristan,good.At 76p per disc,I'm not disappointed.Everyone should have the 3 great ones here,Dutchman,Lohengrin,Meistersinger.The others are no less recommendable,taken as a package deal.Like Edith Piaf,I have no regrets.......
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on 30 July 2013
This box contains some wonderful performances and is being sold at a bargain price. It's worth every penny. The Tannhäuser is outstanding, the Ring with Sawallisch a really great addition to any existing collection of Rings. All other performances are wonderful to outstanding. A non-brainer to Wagner fans, even if you have many of the operas in other performances already. I have about half a dozen performances of most Wagner operas in my library, and yet this box gave me a wonderful new perspective on them.
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on 2 October 2013
This is a wonderful collection to add to my Wagner CD selection. I have not seen Rienzi as it has not been performed in Australia to my knowledge.
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on 11 December 2015
When to listen when you don't want to inflict Wagner on the family? The daily commute. Tristan takes the whole week. OK, no libretto to follow, but as one who has steeped himself in the symphonic tradition I am more interested in musical shape and direction, and Wagner has this in oodles. These are all very good (or even great in some cases) performances packaged more lavishly elsewhere. The live Ring from Sawallisch has an electricity about it. Bought at the same time as Berger's Wagner Without Fear.
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on 1 March 2013
I just wrote an email to a friend recommending this set. I am listening to Meistersinger now, the 1970 Karajan recording. It is great. In fact all the recordings are first-rate. Yes, I may prefer Solti's RING overall, or Karajan's Parsifal but as a 36 CD set and at this price, it is a "Best Buy" and a painless way to own all of the Master's great operas and music dramas. Check it out---you won't be sorry.

Scott Harrison
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on 24 March 2013
I bought this box set because, part from the Solti Ring, I had nothing else in my collection. For just over £32 you get all the major works and these are all excellent performances that I used to listen to with my father, albeit on vinyl. All for kittle more than £3 an opera. Bit of a no brainer
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on 3 March 2016
Pure joy!
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