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  Sony Classical -
  SS 89035
  Wagner: Orchestral Music from The Ring - Cleveland Orchestra/Szell
  Wagner: Orchestral Music from The Ring of the Nibelungs

Cleveland Orchestra
George Szell (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
  Single Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:
  SRGR731 in Japan.

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Reviews: 3

Review by EdBoxer June 17, 2012 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I’ve owned these on LP and CD. The performances get raves from almost every reviewer. They are near perfect. Szell conducted 86 performances at the Met from 1942-1946, including 4 Ring Cycles in 1944 and 1945 (with Traubel and Melchior). He conducts with opera experience. What sets these recordings apart is that each “bleeding chunk” is played as if the entire opera was performed. Each is in character with the scene(s).

The clarity on SACD is stunning. Major improvements in dynamic range and bass response. Pianissimi are barely audible. The brass is brash! Vivid sound stage. Having attended 5 Wagner Ring Cycles at the Met (Levine obviously patterns his Wagner on Szell), this recording now sounds like you’re sitting center orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera house.

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Review by akiralx September 16, 2004 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have been comparing this (non-hybrid, stereo-only) Sony SACD with the old Sony/CBS CD set - the 2 discs Maestro series from 1990, I've never heard a more recent Essential Classics CD incarnation c/w some Ormandy Wagner. I suspect that was the same remastering.

The SACD replicates the second CD from that set (Ring excerpts plus the Tristan Prelude and Liebestod) and adds the Meistersinger Prelude, giving a total timing of 76'47.

I compared the tracks I know very well: the two Gotterdammerung excerpts. Unlike the other Szell SACD I have compared (Schumann Symphonies No 2 & 4, where the difference was discernible but slight), here the new disc sounds clearly different, and I think better.

On CD I always felt it was perhaps the slight aural 'edge' and hint of constriction that made these performances so thrilling (even though the sounds was rather flat in terms of front to back perspective), but this SACD removes that acerbity to some extent, to advantage I feel. There is much more depth to the sound and it is richer - and the orchestra sounds closer (perhaps even a tad smaller?) with greater detail. Strings sound more in focus. Maybe some of the ambience has changed, but perhaps this more realistically conveys the true acoustic of Severance Hall. Hearing the brief fanfare at 5'13ff in the Rhine Journey, here it is more rounded and realistic.

Tape hiss is absent from the SACD. In the Funeral March the advantage is clearer: the detail is much finer (the timpani strokes sound clearly at 2'55ff, whereas on CD they were blurred and the lighter ones inaudible).

For Wagnerians and Szell fans I think this SACD is worth getting as a supplement to the red book CD - I will of course retain the CDs as the SACD cannot be played elsewhere like the car changer.

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Review by Ed T January 27, 2003 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Great music and performances! I've owned them in previous versions since I was a teenager. Sound is a bit variable. As per usual with Szell SACDs, the sound on the recordings from '68 is better than that from that on the Meistersinger and Tristan selections from '62. This disc was a must for me. Performances 5, sound 5-4 for the Ring music, 3 for Meistersinger and Tristan.

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Works: 6  

Richard Wagner - Das Rheingold, WWV 86A
Richard Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, WWV 96
Richard Wagner - Die Walküre, WWV 86B
Richard Wagner - Götterdämmerung, WWV 86D
Richard Wagner - Siegfried, WWV 86C
Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90