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Wagner Operas Favorite Recordings - Page 4

post #46 of 150
Thread Starter 
I think it comes out in a week or so. For some reason, 10 August is in my head for this.
post #47 of 150
I've attempted to dabble in Wagner a few times, but it's not the kind of of work to just dabble in. I have an mp3 copy of Solti's Das Rheingold. No libretto of course (made an mp3 copy of Library CD, to get a feel for Wagner). Is Rheingold a good place to start?

Scott
post #48 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by GanChan
The idea of having it on CD plus on DVD with the libretto on-screen sounds really neat!
post #49 of 150
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottder
I've attempted to dabble in Wagner a few times, but it's not the kind of of work to just dabble in. I have an mp3 copy of Solti's Das Rheingold. No libretto of course (made an mp3 copy of Library CD, to get a feel for Wagner). Is Rheingold a good place to start?

Scott
Sure. It's as good a place as any. I tend to recommend the whole Der Ring des Nibelungen, but that's unrealistic. Das Rheingold will introduce you to the motif structure, the music-drama idea (no aria-chorus arrangement), and the fundamental conflict that drives the whole Ring. Another good place to start is Götterdämmerung, for almost the same reasons. I tend to think that Wagner matured a lot between Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung, also I find the latter better from a dramatic standpoint.

However, any of the Bayreuth canon operas (i.e., Der fliegende Holländer to Parsifal) would be good.
post #50 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
Sure. It's as good a place as any. I tend to recommend the whole Der Ring des Nibelungen, but that's unrealistic. Das Rheingold will introduce you to the motif structure, the music-drama idea (no aria-chorus arrangement), and the fundamental conflict that drives the whole Ring. Another good place to start is Götterdämmerung, for almost the same reasons. I tend to think that Wagner matured a lot between Das Rheingold and Götterdämmerung, also I find the latter better from a dramatic standpoint.

However, any of the Bayreuth canon operas (i.e., Der fliegende Holländer to Parsifal) would be good.
I usually recommend people start with Das Rheingold. I agree with everything PSmith said, plus it's only two hours long, consistently interesting, and it's where the story starts!

Also, some kind of guide to the Wagner world is extremely helpful. Two good ones:

The book - Wagner Without Fear by Wiliam Berger

The spoken-word CD - Der Ring des Nibelungen: An Introduction, by Deryck Cooke.
post #51 of 150
Thanks for the suggestions, will have to check out that book as well!
post #52 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by zotjen
Anyone have recommendations for Die Feen and Rienzi?
The versions on Mike Richter's Opera Encyclopedia CD ROM is pretty good, but the only version on CD that is listenable is Sawallisch.

See ya
Steve
post #53 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
I'm not a big Herbert von Karajan fan. Therefore, I want his set, but only out of a completist impulse.
Karajan's Rhinegold is the best of the modern recordings. No one has even come close to his Rhinemaidens. The video version is even better than the CD.

See ya
Steve
post #54 of 150
Do the Solti CDs come with a Libretto?

PS - Would it be a good idea to see it on DVD first? Netflix has 2 versions of it available.
post #55 of 150
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottder
Do the Solti CDs come with a Libretto?

PS - Would it be a good idea to see it on DVD first? Netflix has 2 versions of it available.
Yes. Most full price cycles do. Solti, Von Karajan, and the original Levine cycles all do. Bargain re-releases like Janowski and the slimline Böhm cycle (I think) generally don't.

See if you can track down the Boulez/Chereau/Bayreuth production from 1980. It was just rereleased on Deutsche Grammophon, but was out for some time on Philips. Great performances and a landmark staging; I would recommend this as a supplement to your first Ring experience.
post #56 of 150
For video performances, I'd recommend the Karajan Rhinegold first... then Boulez's cycle, then Barenboim's... and way, WAY back in the rear bringing up last place, Levine's sleep inducing Met Ring and the totally inadequate Stuttgart Ring.

See ya
Steve
post #57 of 150
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot
For video performances, I'd recommend the Karajan Rhinegold first... then Boulez's cycle, then Barenboim's... and way, WAY back in the rear bringing up last place, Levine's sleep inducing Met Ring and the totally inadequate Stuttgart Ring.

See ya
Steve
I rather liked Levine's CD Götterdämmerung. Orchestrally, I don't think it has many peers (Solti and maybe Janowski), but the singers are a mite weak. However, the DVD has a slightly different cast (I think Jerusalem replaces Goldberg), if I recall correctly.

I don't always agree with Levine's tempi. His Das Rheingold is plodding, and I think his Bayreuth Parsifal is one of the longest. However, sometimes he hits the mark. His Der fliegende Holländer is pretty good. It bests Solti, in any event.

He is, believe it or not, the greatest living American Wagnerian.
post #58 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
He is, believe it or not, the greatest living American Wagnerian.
I would choose Wolfgang Sawallisch as the greatest living Wagnerian. (Since he was most recently principle conductor in Philadelphia, I suppose you could call him American.) Barenboim is a close second. He's definitely capable of matching the intensity of Furtwangler. His Ring and Tristan are great. The only thing that lets a couple of his recordings down is the quality of the singing, but you can't blame that on him. Boulez's Ring is conducted MUCH more imaginatively than Levine's, and even his misguided non-sectarian Parsifal is better than Levine's plodding one. Heck, I heard Donald Runnicles in San Francisco, and I would choose him for a live performance of the Ring over Levine any day.

Levine's main strength is his broad repetoire. He's not really great in any of it... but he's competent.

See ya
Steve
post #59 of 150
Thread Starter 
Sorry, Steve, but I really cannot agree with your assessment. Levine, when he manages to get the idea behind the piece, can really shine. He has also made the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra a really fantastic group, which is not always the case with pit bands. His greatest fault is his inconsistency. I place his Götterdämmerung in the top three or four, but wouldn't give you a plugged nickel for his Rheingold. He also has the unfortunate tendency to get bored and mark time between big moments. I get that impression from his Der fliegende Holländer. However, I will warrant that nothing of his is definitive. The competition is just too great.

Barenboim is probably, though Boulez isn't dead yet, the greatest Wagnerian still alive. He sits solidly in the European tradition, but is his own man.
post #60 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
Yes. Most full price cycles do. Solti, Von Karajan, and the original Levine cycles all do. Bargain re-releases like Janowski and the slimline Böhm cycle (I think) generally don't.
Yeah I don't think I'll be picking up full cycles, but the individuals. Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
See if you can track down the Boulez/Chereau/Bayreuth production from 1980. It was just rereleased on Deutsche Grammophon, but was out for some time on Philips. Great performances and a landmark staging; I would recommend this as a supplement to your first Ring experience.
Yes, in fact there is only the Boulez and another with looks like a modernazation avaialble on Netflix, thanks!

Scott
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