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  Esoteric -
  ESSD-90021-34 (14 discs)
  Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen - Solti
  Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen

Wiener Philharmoniker
Sir Georg Solti (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Opera
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 2

Review by mwgfrg September 28, 2010 (12 of 14 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
There isn't much which remains to be said about this magnum opus as a performance: if you don't think it is the greatest, most important release in the entire history of recording, well, fine--just name an alternative. For years, whenever I have wanted to show off the sheer beauty my system could reproduce at that moment, I have pulled out the last side of my wide-band original British Decca pressings of Die Walkure, the last opera recorded, and played the orchestral postlude from Wotan's farewell to the end of the opera. The Esoteric transfers are not better than the original LPs, but they are fully comparable, perhaps a little crisper and a shade less warm, but a great reissue project worthy of perhaps the greatest recording project ever. The differences in the original recording quality and characteristics, from the late '50s Rheingold through the late mid-'60s Walkure, is as apparent on Esoteric's transfers as it is on Decca's original LPs. Of course, that leaves the issue of price: $800! Would any sane person pay that for a second complete version of the same recording of the Ring? How often is any sane person going to listen to all 19 hours of this Ring? I can't answer these questions (obviously), but I bought it, and I am delighted to have it.

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Review by Amfibius January 21, 2011 (12 of 17 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Anybody who is contemplating dropping $800 on this set already knows the significance of this performance. It was recorded between 1958-1964 by John Culshaw. The recordings took the world by storm, and even outsold Elvis and Pat Boone for a while! For years, this was known to be the best performance, with the best recording - which is why this music has been available, in one format or another, over the last 50 years.

The first digital remaster was made in 1985, and was universally acknowledged to sound horrible. Decca released another remaster in 1997 - which was a major improvement over the earlier master, but still manages to have a thin and brittle top end and a muffled midrange.

For many years I travelled by without knowing how good the original recording was, until I stumbled across a mint set of LP's from 1970. Utterly and completely mint. Some of the records have never been played! The sound was a revelation - rich, dynamic, layered, natural, with a wide, wide soundstage. I became very disillusioned with the RBCD - but I did not want to wear out my vinyl so I kept playing the RBCD.

In 2009, Esoteric made a new remaster from the original analogue tapes, this time on DSD. Only 1,000 copies were made, and they are all sold out. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one of the last copies available.

The SACD very closely approaches the quality of the record, but is not quite there. It is by no means a bad sounding disc - there are NO objectionable sound problems. The midrange is no longer muffled. The top end is no longer thin sounding. It is a natural and superb sounding set of discs. But - sad to say - vinyl still sounds better.

The vinyl set sells for a huge sum of money on secondhand markets. Very soon, these discs will be worth plenty on the secondhand market also. So this guide is academic, really - more than likely, you won't be able to get your hands on a copy. But be rest assured, if you have the capability to play vinyl, and you somehow manage to score a good set like I did, the sound will be superior.

Five stars for sound, because this set ranks among the best sounding of SACD's that I own.

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Works: 4  

Richard Wagner - Das Rheingold, WWV 86A
Richard Wagner - Die Walküre, WWV 86B
Richard Wagner - Götterdämmerung, WWV 86D
Richard Wagner - Siegfried, WWV 86C