Various Artists

Dedicated to the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Richard Wagner

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Released to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner's birth, this double-CD compilation from Melodiya brings together historic recordings that were made between 1958 and 1991. Like other Wagner orchestral collections, this package offers the best-known preludes and interludes from the music dramas, so those who are familiar with the most popular pieces from Der Ring des Nibelungen and the other operas will recognize almost everything here. Yet even though some of these recordings date back to the analog era, and the rest are early digital, the reproduction is generally rich and clear, and in most cases the audio compares favorably to comparable recordings from the same period. (Only the background sounds and accidents of live performance make the Faust Overture, the Funeral March from Götterdämmerung, and the Prelude to Act III from Lohengrin a little less desirable than the other selections.) Fans of Russian conductors may be curious to find how they interpreted Wagner, and representative examples of performances by Andrey Chistiakov, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Evgeny Svetlanov, Yevgeny Mravinsky, David Oistrakh, and Alexander Dmitriev show that there is no nationalistic barrier to understanding these masterworks.

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