Richard Wagner’s “Ring” at the world-famous La Scala in Milan is a first-class musical experience featuring one of the greatest conductors of our time at the podium: Daniel Barenboim. Wagner’s tale about the power of the ring, the reign of gold and the battle between dwarves, giants, gods and mortals is picturesque, complex and deeply psychological. It is a demanding work for musicians, singers and the production team. In his stage production, the Belgian Guy Cassiers conveys the aesthetic quality and musical brilliance of this gesamtkunstwerk in dazzling imagery. The challenges of the music and dramatic performance are admirably mastered by renowned singers including René Pape, Waltraud Meier, Lance Ryan, Nina Stemme, Simon O’Neill, Iréne Theorin and many others. A veritable feast for the senses, a treat for all Wagner aficionados and a wonderful opportunity to revisit the legendary La Scala in Milan.
"Musikalisch dichte, klanglich prächtig ausbalancierte und das Primat der Sänger wahrende Aufnahme, deren Schönheit aus der Gesamtwirkung resultiert…Im Gesamteindruck setzt diese Aufnahme große Wagner-Tradition mit großer Bestimmtheit und Überzeugungskraft fort." ~Hermes Opernlexikon
This first complete studio recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, made between 1958 and 1966, was a groundbreaking technical and artistic achievement, the most ambitious and intricately involved opera recording project of the 20th century. Produced for Decca by John Culshaw, whose vision and untiring devotion brought the gargantuan project to completion, the 14 ½-hour release set a new standard for opera recordings. The details Culshaw lavished on the production, which included building new musical instruments, precisely calculating the placement and choreography of each singer to maximize the theatricality of each scene, and creating an array of fabulous special effects resulted in a landmark recording that has lost none of its power with the passage of time.
DG's 20-bit transfer reveals more tape hiss than before, while the orchestral image is better focused, with more definition at the bottom end. Some have likened Herbert von Karajan's "chamber-music approach" to Wagner's Ring cycle in terms of his scaling down or deconstructing the heroic roles. This approach has less to do with dynamics per se than it does with von Karajan's masterful balancing of voices and instruments.