Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Definitive Version of the Prelude to the Ring

There have been many recordings of the Ring in the last fifty years and this is the defintive one. The Ring is about fifteen hours long of demanding and intense music. It is Solti's conducting that provides the difference when compared with others. It is extremely extrovert and dramatic. The opening prelude, describing the dawn on River Rhine with the basses, rippling strings and the brass announcing the sun, is so emphatic; no recording before and after has brought this out with such an effect. Solti's handling of the climaxes is peerless. I cannot begin to describe the entire story of Das Rheingold (the first part of Der Ring Des Nibelungen) but the brief synopsis is that the Rhinemaidens are guarding the Rheingold for their father Wotan and one of the Nibelung elfs , Alberich, renounces the love and lust for rhinemaidens or any other maiden forever and that gives him the power to wield a ring from the gold. That Ring gives him the power to rule the world. The Ring is about the tribulations that Wotan faces and the sacrifices he has to make to redeem the power and justice in the world again. The magic of Richard Wagner's orchestration in the Rainbow and Valhalla music has rarely been brought out so masterfully. Gustav Neidlinger is superb as Alberich. George London as Wotan is dark and regal bass-baritone. The sound effects are excellent. For example, the clang of the anvils, Donner's hammerblow and the thunderclap in the final scene have never been matched.

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