Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen-Deluxe Limited Edition

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen-Deluxe Limited Edition

Article excerpt

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen--Deluxe Limited Edition. Birgit Nilsson, Wolfgang Windgassen, Hans Hotter, George London, Kirsten Flagstad, Gustav Neidlinger, Paul Kuen, Gerhard Stolze, Kurt Bb'hm, Walter Kreppel, Jean Madeira, Gottlob Frick, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, James King, Regine Crespin, Claire Watson, Waldemar Kmentt, Eberhard Wachter, Set Svanholm, Joan Sutherland, et al. Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna State Opera Chorus (Wilhelm Pitz, chorus master), Georg Solti, Conductor. Decca LC 0171 (Recorded in Stereo, 1958-1965; 17 CDs, 1 DVD and 1 Blu-ray Audio Disc).

Decca's latest edition of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen with Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is the fourth time that this landmark recording has been offered on digital media, and its release was timed to commemorate the Solti centennial (21 October 2012) and Wagner bicentennial (22 May 2013). I previously reviewed Decca's 1997 CD release, the second in that format (455 559-2; 14 CDs) and the premium-priced 2009 SACD release, remastered in Japan under license by Esoteric (ESSD 90021/35; 14 hybrid SACDs plus 1 DVD selling for about $800 US). (1,2) The 1997 CD release contained only the four Ring operas, recorded between 1958 and 1965, as had the first CD reissue in 1984 (414 100-2; 15 CDs). Esoteric added a DVD of the fascinating 90-minute BBC documentary The Golden Ring, filmed during the second round of Gbtterdammerung sessions in November 1964. The Golden Ring had been issued separately by Decca on VHS tape and LaserDisc in 1992 and on DVD in 2002 and 2007 (071 153-9 and 000942009).

The new edition contains the four Ring operas on 14 CDs, a DVD of The Golden Ring, plus a single high-resolution Blu-ray audio disc containing the entire Ring cycle in uncompressed 48kHz/24-bit PCM (Pulse-Code Modulation--the standard encoding format for digital audio). In addition, the new package also includes a reissue of Deryck Cooke's Introduction to Der Ring des Nibelungen. Cooke's excellent analysis of the development of leitmotivs in the Ring was originally issued on LP in 1968 (London RDN S-1, Decca SET 406-8; 3 LPs). The Introduction was also included in special LP editions of the Solti Ring issued by Decca in the U.K. and by Time-Life in the US. Cooke's spoken commentary was enhanced with recorded examples from the complete Solti recording, plus a number of examples specially recorded for this presentation by Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic. Decca reissued the Introduction on CD in their Classic Sound series in 1995 (443-581-2; 2 CDs). Finally, the set also contains Solti's Vienna recordings of the Overtures to Rienzi and Der fliegende Hollander, the Overture and Bacchanal from Tannhauser (Dresden versions), Siegfried Idyll, and the short choral work Kinderkatechismus. The latter two appeared on LP as the filler side to the Cooke Introduction; Siegfried Idyll was originally released on LP as the filler to Solti's Vienna recording of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7. The overtures and Siegfried Idyll have appeared multiple times on CD, most recently in Decca's "The Originals" series (000897802), and Kinderkatechismus was reissued on CD in 2007 on the Australian Decca Eloquence label (442 8283). Discographer John Hunt cast some doubt on Solti's involvement with the recording of Kinderkatechismus, noting "It is not entirely clear whether Solti actually conducted this musical example ..." (3) No conductor is listed on the Eloquence CD reissue, but in the original booklet, and on the original record labels, Solti is clearly credited as the conductor for everything that appeared in the LP edition of the Cooke Introduction. The notes for the new edition state that it has been "included here in order to give a complete overview of Solti's Wagner recordings in this period." The work--barely 2 1/2-minutes long--was performed by the Wiener Sangerknaben (Vienna Boys' Choir) accompanied by a chamber ensemble from the Vienna Philharmonic. …

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