One Ring to rule them all
In search for the one recording of 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' that would rule them all ...
Rudolf Moralt - Studio 1949
Singers are recorded very close to the mic. Like they are standing in your living room.
Clemens Krauss - Bayreuth 1953
The best conducted Ring. It breaths, the most important thing in music; whether it concerns a Wagner opera, a Bruckner symphony or a Slayer song.
The Keilberth-Bayreuth Legacy
Bayreuth 1952: Very fast tempi that by times (Walkürenritt!) reveals almost cartoon-like qualities in the score.
Bayreuth 1953: Martha Mödl is Brünnhilde instead of Astrid Varnay (compared to '52 and '55)
Bayreuth 1955: First stereo Ring. Hans Hotter in his prime. A dramatic force of nature. Incomparable with the Solti Ring where he sounds asthmetic in comparison.
Wilhelm Furtwängler - La Scala 1950
Donner und Wetter! Kirsten Flagstad is Brünnhilde in this live Ring from Italy.
WILHELM FURTWÄNGLER - RAI 1953
The RAI Ring relates to the Scala Ring as a studio recording to a live recording. Recorded one act at the time before a (silent) audience. Cast overlaps for a great deal with La Scala but with Mödl as Brünnhilde (who brings a bit more drama to the role than Flagstad). The Mime of Julius Patzak is a disappointment. He sings the role rather than acting it. Making him sound more like an office clerk than an intriguer who tries to gain access to the Ring via Siegfried.
Georg Solti - Studio 1958-1965
The Golden Ring according to many but It was never my favorite. Conducting is too nervous and Solti, unintendedly, shows that true drama never can exist without beauty.
Karl Böhm - Bayreuth 1966
The most dramatic Ring.
Herbert von Karajan - Studio 1966-1970
Karajan's quest for beauty.
Pierre Boulez / Patrice Chereau - Bayreuth 1980
Best staging available on DVD. The first act of Walküre is the best thing in opera on film that I’ve ever seen. Singing, however, is sometimes dangerously uneven (Wotan and Brünnhilde!).
The tapes from 1976, the year the Boulez/Chéreau Ring saw its premiere, are worth a special mention. Boulez met an orchestra that was to a considerable extent hostile to his intentions. The same was true for a part of the audience with regard to the staging of Cheréau. There is a frenzy surrounding these performances that makes for a very exciting and poignant listening experience that adds an extra dimension to the term music drama.