Author Topic: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...  (Read 188838 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #880 on: July 22, 2015, 09:38:44 AM »
Hope this is the right thread.

I understand your hesitancy. Is this the Ring which will “rule them all”?  One rings one's hands . . . .
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Offline shell

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #881 on: July 24, 2015, 02:07:05 PM »
Two Rings to rule them all for me--the Bohm and the Krauss in the Pristine Classical remastering. The Bohm has my favorite overall cast, is the most dramatic and exciting and magnetic and is gripping even in what's supposed to be the tedious quarter hours. The Krauss cast is very close to matching the Bohm (I like Nilsson over Varnay by a larger margin than I like Hotter over Adam), and Krauss is the only other interpretation I've heard that matches Bohm's sense of drama and theater. There's some places where Krauss is even more magnetic and charismatic than Bohm, but there are also many moments when the performance kind of falls apart a bit.

The only recording I've listened to much that I actively don't like is the Solti, despite the very good cast overall. To me, his take on the material is too hard driving, too brassy, pompous and episodic. And it sounds like he's trying to highlight everything. I suspect if you looked at his score, every passage would be underlined.

Then there's a bunch of recordings that I like some things about and less so other things--the Keilberth has a great cast (almost identical to Krauss but even better b/c his Sieglinde) but the conducting is a little bland, the Karajan is great at the big highlight moments but is unusually draggy in the draggy parts.  That Karajan recording would be my first choice for making a highlights mix of bleeding chunks though.

The Furtwangler RAI has pretty poor sound and the cast isn't the best, and his attempt to create mystery and wonder often comes off a little stodgy and plodding.  His studio Walkure is in better sound than the RAI but is still a little plodding, and his cast is again not great--Modl is a great Kundry but not a great Brunnhilde, Frantz is an OK Wotan but is no Hotter or even an Adam or Stewart. His twins are good though.

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #882 on: October 19, 2015, 05:05:32 AM »
I posted this in the Valhalla thread, but here too. An interesting exhibit upcoming in New York:

http://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/wagners-ring
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Offline Roberto

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #883 on: October 19, 2015, 05:51:41 AM »
I've decided to take the financial plunge and splash out on a Ring cycle. Unless I am struck like Saul on the road to Damascus I imagine that I will only ever buy one Ring cycle. The question is, which...
I was in the same position 3 years ago.  :)

The new Testament Bayreuth 1955 cycle. Seems to have the advantage of the frission of live performance but may be lacking in sound quality compared to others. Also has the advantage of a consistent cast.
I listened to parts of it on youtube but brass volume was toooo much for me. It seemed every microphone placed in front of the brasses.
Finally I decided to buy Solti (the Solti-Wagner 36 CD set) and after 3 years I still think it was the best solution. (At least for me.) I prefer orchesral performance over singers so I love its beautiful sound, perfect orchestal balance and sound effects. Singers also very good and there is a consistent, clear vision in the performance.

Actually 2 moonths ago I bought Furtwängler-Scala Ring too but that is totally different performance and its sound quality is not for beginners.

Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #884 on: October 25, 2015, 01:37:36 PM »
Ah, the time of the year when I consider getting my second ring cycle. I'm pretty happy with the Karajan box as my reference set but I crave a live recording and there's one that's been whispering to me for the past few years. Sawallisch!


Yeah, it's one of the 'affordable' cycles on the marketplace and I'm on a TIGHT budget these days, but what really got me interested were some of the comments I've read here, courtesy of Dancing Divertimentian. Along with the cautious praise sung by a bunch of Amazon commenters, my gut tells me this might be the perfect second set for me — I actually don't see myself owning more than two, maaaaaybe three, as I'm not THAT much of a Ring nut (I've yet to endure Siegfried without falling into a catatonic state). But I want a live one, a lively one, with solid modern sound.

I just wish there was at least one tiny audio sample available online! I can be pretty obsessive about not only the fidelity but also the 'vibe' of a recording, especially when that recording involves gods shouting at each other for hours. Any idea where I could satisfy this aural curiosity? Perhaps.. somebody.. who owns it.. could.. put.. something.. online? Pretty please?



(bracing for all the recommendations to buy SOME OTHER GODDAMN SET, which are welcome, but will not be heeded)

(probably)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #885 on: October 25, 2015, 05:35:36 PM »
I'd say resist the temptation, Rinaldo. That Karajan set is absolutely first-rate and of the other three Ring sets I own, is the one I'll continue to return to, but, like you, I'm not that big of a fan of The Ring and actually prefer Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde, but I don't listen to these operas either much (if ever). I could live without Siegfried, too, truth be told. Certainly the weakest link in the whole Ring cycle IMHO.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #886 on: October 25, 2015, 05:39:01 PM »
Ah, the time of the year when I consider getting my second ring cycle. I'm pretty happy with the Karajan box as my reference set but I crave a live recording and there's one that's been whispering to me for the past few years. Sawallisch!

I think if it's a live set you're after the Sawallisch is definitely worth considering. I haven't gone back and read my old comments but as live sets (or individual recordings) go it delivers the goods sonics-wise, no question. And that's just the sonics. Interpretively it delivers, too.

I found some samples here on Allmusic.com. They seem a pretty good representation of the sound but I'd say the orchestra is a tad more present on the actual CDs. :)


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #887 on: October 26, 2015, 05:59:16 AM »
I found some samples here on Allmusic.com. They seem a pretty good representation of the sound but I'd say the orchestra is a tad more present on the actual CDs. :)

Hey, how did I miss THAT?! Thanks a ton, exactly what I was looking for.

I'd say resist the temptation, Rinaldo.

Just one more, I promise!

Offline shell

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #888 on: October 26, 2015, 10:06:01 PM »
I just wish there was at least one tiny audio sample available online!
The whole thing's on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLci38Lm-qFauX2sxa8qnXRxrnkNLkVLpO

I know you said you weren't interested in recommendations for other recordings, but I have to say that at the same price, I'd get the Bohm in a hot second over this. The Sawallisch cast is pretty mediocre and the whole thing is a little bit on the slack side. The Bohm is studded with all time greats in virtually all the significant roles, and is dramatic and intense almost to a fault--impossible to get bored by the Siegfried, or any of the other operas in this cycle.

The Bohm is probably my second favorite out of my couple of dozen Ring cycles behind the 1950 Furtwangler and is actually the recording that really sold me on the whole cycle as a coherent and cohesive piece of art.

Can be had for around $35 for the cycle on its own:



or what I think is the best deal around, the $50 Great Operas boxed set that includes all the Wagner operas. It includes the outstanding Bohm Ring and Bohm Tristan, very good Sawallisch early operas (Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Hollander). The Parsifal isn't that great and I haven't heard that Meistersinger, but it's still a great deal for the set.


Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #889 on: October 26, 2015, 11:47:25 PM »
The whole thing's on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLci38Lm-qFauX2sxa8qnXRxrnkNLkVLpO

I know you said you weren't interested in recommendations for other recordings, but I have to say that at the same price, I'd get the Bohm in a hot second over this. The Sawallisch cast is pretty mediocre and the whole thing is a little bit on the slack side. The Bohm is studded with all time greats in virtually all the significant roles, and is dramatic and intense almost to a fault--impossible to get bored by the Siegfried, or any of the other operas in this cycle.

The Bohm is probably my second favorite out of my couple of dozen Ring cycles behind the 1950 Furtwangler and is actually the recording that really sold me on the whole cycle as a coherent and cohesive piece of art.

Can be had for around $35 for the cycle on its own:



or what I think is the best deal around, the $50 Great Operas boxed set that includes all the Wagner operas. It includes the outstanding Bohm Ring and Bohm Tristan, very good Sawallisch early operas (Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Hollander). The Parsifal isn't that great and I haven't heard that Meistersinger, but it's still a great deal for the set.


I agree with you. I would just mention, since you didn't explicitly state it, that the Bohm is live too.
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Offline Rinaldo

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #890 on: October 27, 2015, 02:31:39 AM »
The whole thing's on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLci38Lm-qFauX2sxa8qnXRxrnkNLkVLpO

Ah-ha! Didn't realize it was the same recording and when I checked Das Rheingold, it was only 240p so I didn't really bother that much with it. Really liked what I heard from that orchestra though (a feeling reinforced by the samples on Allmusic).

Quote
I know you said you weren't interested in recommendations for other recordings, but I have to say that at the same price, I'd get the Bohm in a hot second over this. The Sawallisch cast is pretty mediocre and the whole thing is a little bit on the slack side. The Bohm is studded with all time greats in virtually all the significant roles, and is dramatic and intense almost to a fault--impossible to get bored by the Siegfried, or any of the other operas in this cycle.

Quote
Or what I think is the best deal around, the $50 Great Operas boxed set that includes all the Wagner operas. It includes the outstanding Bohm Ring and Bohm Tristan, very good Sawallisch early operas (Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Hollander). The Parsifal isn't that great and I haven't heard that Meistersinger, but it's still a great deal for the set.


Hm hm, that DOES sound very enticing. I don't own any other Wagner operas (haven't actually heard them yet) but was planning to fix that eventually. Well, Christmas is coming, so I'll definitely give this a thorough thought - I tend to overlook "all-in-one" boxes as they are mostly overkill for me but this set seems like a killer deal. Thank you!

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #891 on: October 27, 2015, 09:38:28 PM »
Sawallisch certainly isn't "slack". If overall timing is an issue he's actually very close to Böhm (Böhm is about a half-hour shorter). But here the similarities end. Böhm can often sound too brisk, too much like he's late for a deadline. Sawallisch's pacing may be similar but it never sounds rushed. Very organic in conception.

As far as that "all time greats" canard in the singing department, Windgassen was never among the "all time" in anything. He backed in to Solti's Ring. Nilsson has her moments but her steely, soulless sound doesn't evince a goddess...more like Ms. Dominatrix. 

Kollo of course won't win any awards, here, either. But Behrens at least has the "womanly" thing going for her, more human and vulnerable. She can be melting at times - the complete opposite of Nilsson's cold steel - but, no, she's not perfect.

Neither is Theo Adam. His Wotan is miles from Robert Hale's robustness.

As far as sonics, seeing as Sawallisch's is thirty years newer than Böhm's, it obviously wins out. But that shouldn't be held against it.
 
What it may boil down to is, is there a perfect Ring on records? As I've written before I've had many Rings, and none of them are without flaw in one way or another. Even Krauss's notable Ring could use a Flagstad instead of Varnay. Iiiiiifff only...



Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #892 on: October 27, 2015, 10:36:10 PM »
Sawallisch certainly isn't "slack". If overall timing is an issue he's actually very close to Böhm (Böhm is about a half-hour shorter). But here the similarities end. Böhm can often sound too brisk, too much like he's late for a deadline. Sawallisch's pacing may be similar but it never sounds rushed. Very organic in conception.

As far as that "all time greats" canard in the singing department, Windgassen was never among the "all time" in anything. He backed in to Solti's Ring. Nilsson has her moments but her steely, soulless sound doesn't evince a goddess...more like Ms. Dominatrix. 

Kollo of course won't win any awards, here, either. But Behrens at least has the "womanly" thing going for her, more human and vulnerable. She can be melting at times - the complete opposite of Nilsson's cold steel - but, no, she's not perfect.

Neither is Theo Adam. His Wotan is miles from Robert Hale's robustness.

As far as sonics, seeing as Sawallisch's is thirty years newer than Böhm's, it obviously wins out. But that shouldn't be held against it.
 
What it may boil down to is, is there a perfect Ring on records? As I've written before I've had many Rings, and none of them are without flaw in one way or another. Even Krauss's notable Ring could use a Flagstad instead of Varnay. Iiiiiifff only...

Wow! Are we listening to the same thing?!?!

I'll just say that most people would not agree with your negative assessment of the singers in the Bohm. And for the record, Windgassen is widely regarded as one the best heldentenor since the mid-20th century. That doesn't mean you have to like his voice of course. And Nilsson was often regarded as one of the top Wagnerian sopranos of her time (not to mention her Strauss, but I digress). Personally, I like her voice.

Anyway, the point is that the voices in the Bohm set are generally quite good and well regarded. I would agree that there is no perfect Ring, but then that is hard to accomplish over 15 hours of singing and performing. And while Bohm does fly in some places, I love that.
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #893 on: October 28, 2015, 09:01:44 AM »
Wow! Are we listening to the same thing?!?!

Dunno. Maybe you could tell me. I made no commentary on Böhm until someone else chimed in and began slinging the mud at Sawallisch ("slack" is a false accusation). I couldn't care less about what you or anybody else thinks about Böhm. Why? Because Rinaldo came here and asked about Sawallisch. You guys came in later and decided it was a good time to posture-up and swagger around about another recording. 

So the Sawallisch can take a beatdown but, oh!, how dare I criticize the sacred Böhm cow. ::)

My points were obviously a personal reflection of my experience based on listening to both Böhm and Sawallisch. If you have insight on the Sawallisch - since you apparently own it, too - I'd love to hear it vis-a-vis Böhm.

Quote
I'll just say that most people would not agree with your negative assessment of the singers in the Bohm. And for the record, Windgassen is widely regarded as one the best heldentenor since the mid-20th century. That doesn't mean you have to like his voice of course. And Nilsson was often regarded as one of the top Wagnerian sopranos of her time (not to mention her Strauss, but I digress). Personally, I like her voice.

Yes, well, catch phrases and buzz words like "most people", "for the record", and "often regarded" are hollow. I was quick to point out the deficiencies in the singing on Sawallisch. It's possible for me to be objective. Apparently Böhm is above reproach.

Anyway, adequately filling Wagner roles has always been a challenge, on record or whatnot. Reasons include logistics, lack of singers, etc... Sometimes filling roles means making do with what's available.

Windgassen did not posses a stellar voice. The fact he could SING his part meant a lot, but all you have to do is read Ring Resounding to get the true picture of his place in the Wagnerian "pantheon". He was respected, yes, preferred, no. And I can hear why.

As far as Nilsson, I prefer warmth and "humanity" in a voice. Whatever else she possesses, I don't find these qualities in her Wagner (that I've heard). It only takes listening to Flagstad or Frida Leider, and perhaps sometimes Behrens, for me to hear what's missing.

Quote
Anyway, the point is that the voices in the Bohm set are generally quite good and well regarded. I would agree that there is no perfect Ring, but then that is hard to accomplish over 15 hours of singing and performing. And while Bohm does fly in some places, I love that.

"Flies" is apt, yes. But it's not my cup of java.


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #894 on: October 28, 2015, 09:22:31 AM »
So, is the consensus that there is no one Ring to rule 'em all?
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Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #895 on: October 28, 2015, 09:45:34 AM »
So, is the consensus that there is no one Ring to rule 'em all?

That's about the gist of it from where I sit. :D


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #896 on: October 28, 2015, 12:06:48 PM »
Dunno. Maybe you could tell me. I made no commentary on Böhm until someone else chimed in and began slinging the mud at Sawallisch ("slack" is a false accusation). I couldn't care less about what you or anybody else thinks about Böhm. Why? Because Rinaldo came here and asked about Sawallisch. You guys came in later and decided it was a good time to posture-up and swagger around about another recording. 

So the Sawallisch can take a beatdown but, oh!, how dare I criticize the sacred Böhm cow. ::)

My points were obviously a personal reflection of my experience based on listening to both Böhm and Sawallisch. If you have insight on the Sawallisch - since you apparently own it, too - I'd love to hear it vis-a-vis Böhm.

Yes, well, catch phrases and buzz words like "most people", "for the record", and "often regarded" are hollow. I was quick to point out the deficiencies in the singing on Sawallisch. It's possible for me to be objective. Apparently Böhm is above reproach.

Anyway, adequately filling Wagner roles has always been a challenge, on record or whatnot. Reasons include logistics, lack of singers, etc... Sometimes filling roles means making do with what's available.

Windgassen did not posses a stellar voice. The fact he could SING his part meant a lot, but all you have to do is read Ring Resounding to get the true picture of his place in the Wagnerian "pantheon". He was respected, yes, preferred, no. And I can hear why.

As far as Nilsson, I prefer warmth and "humanity" in a voice. Whatever else she possesses, I don't find these qualities in her Wagner (that I've heard). It only takes listening to Flagstad or Frida Leider, and perhaps sometimes Behrens, for me to hear what's missing.

"Flies" is apt, yes. But it's not my cup of java.

I'm not sure how the heat got turned up so high, but my apologies for contributing to it. It's clear we value different things in the singing, so it's good we are spoiled for choice. 
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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #897 on: October 28, 2015, 12:32:44 PM »
I'm not sure how the heat got turned up so high, but my apologies for contributing to it. It's clear we value different things in the singing, so it's good we are spoiled for choice.


True, indeed! :)


Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #898 on: October 28, 2015, 12:34:06 PM »
So, is the consensus that there is no one Ring to rule 'em all?

Or is it the consensus merely that there is no consensus? If so, then do we have an infinite regression of zero consensus situations? And if so, how do we stop this madness, except by buying yet another Ring?

Strange how things change over the years. When Bohm's Ring was published it seemed so exciting, so emotionally exhausting, so compelling, and (relatively) so affordable, that the Bohm box of LPs (our first Ring) became our greatest treasure. A few years later, because of a little windfall and a passion for the singing of Rita Hunter, we bought the Goodall box. Later, a friend played us some of the Solti, and that set us into a state of very deep longing, but big problems, then: no cash.

And now, LPs long gone, a whole stack of Rings on the shelves (CD and DVD boxes), can I honestly say that it matters much to me which I listen to? Not really, though I like the variety, and the satisfying of my curiosity about what the differences are.
Can I honestly say that the work itself is as important to me as it was 35 years ago, despite the accumulation of this big collection that seems to suggest it is? Not really.
Would I be just as content if I were to give them all away except Bohm and complete the circle? Possibly, though losing Solti would be a wrench.

« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 12:36:07 PM by Elgarian »

Offline shell

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Re: Wagner One Ring to rule them all...
« Reply #899 on: October 28, 2015, 01:18:11 PM »
Hm, I'm not sure where the heat came from either. I certainly don't think the Sawallisch is bad, it's actually pretty good considering the vocal limitations of the era. Behrens is indeed the best Brunnhilde of her day, but she's still essentially a lyric pushing into dramatic territory and she sounds strained at times, although lovely at other times. Hale has a pleasing voice but the tessitura lies a little low for him, and again, his vocal weight is something less than the ideal for the god Wotan. I'm no Kollo hater (I thought he sounded great in the Kegel Parsifal and he's not bad on the Solti Tannhauser) but this is well past his peak and he's sounding pretty unsteady and uncertain of pitch.

Anyways, if you like the Sawallisch, more power to you. I still think at the same price, Rinaldo would be much better off getting the Bohm. Even if you don't care for Nilsson and Windgassen, they are still the two major post-war Brunnhilde and Siegfrieds, and it's worth hearing what the fuss is about. Rysanek is also my favorite Sieglinde and King is a fine Siegmund. The Bohm also has Neidlinger in the definitive portrayal of Alberich, Greindl as the most inhuman and terrifying Hagen. It's terrific and a much more interesting change of pace for Rinaldo from his reference Karajan than the Sawallisch, since both the Karajan and the Sawallisch are both less dramatically intense than some other recordings, and also stars a number of lyric singers pushing into dramatic territory.

It's also a little weird to be accused of "slinging mud" at Sawallisch in the same post where I recommend a big boxed set partly due to his fine contributions in the early 60s Lohengrin, Hollander and Tannhauser. I like Sawallisch--I don't think he's an all-time great Wagnerian but he is a very fine one. But Bohm is an all-time great Wagnerian responsible for not only one of the top few Rings but also all time great Tristan und Isolde and Meistersinger.

So, is the consensus that there is no one Ring to rule 'em all?

My One Ring would be the Furtwangler/Scala from 1950, in the black magic Pristine Classical remaster. Picked it up a few months ago and I can't stop listening to it. It is astonishing how listenable it is now, compared to the atrocious pressings I used to have. All the drama of Bohm or Keilberth, all the mystery (and then some) of Krauss, it's just untouchable.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2015, 01:27:50 PM by howlingfantods »