Pierre Boulez / Bayreuth Festival Orchestra

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen

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AllMusic Review by

Although not the most controversial of postwar Bayreuth Rings -- Georg Solti and Peter Hall's retro-Romantic Ring with naked Rhine maidens wins that prize -- Pierre Boulez and Patrice Chéreau's post-industrial revolution Ring as metaphor for the decline and fall of capitalism is certainly the second most controversial postwar Bayreuth Ring. But more controversial than Chéreau's dramatic conception was Boulez's musical execution. With startlingly clear textures, spectacularly bright colors, and stunningly light tempos, Boulez' obtains a Wagner sound like no other. And for those with ears to hear, it works. Wagner's music doesn't have to be murky to be metaphysical or massive to be overwhelmingly moving and Boulez gets playing from the too-often turgid Bayreuth Festival Orchestra that makes the music crackle and blaze with musical and dramatic meaning. But perhaps most surprisingly, the best thing about this Ring is the singing, or, rather, the singing-acting. From Donald McIntyre's bigger than life but deeply human Wotan to Gwyneth Jones heartbreakingly beautiful Brünnhilde, the leads are magnificently convincing both as singers and as actors. And while Peter Hoffmann's Siegmund and Manfred Jung's Siegfried were less well received at the time, their performances, while perhaps too earnest, are still quite effective in their roles. Philips' 1981 sound is very live -- much of the stage action is plainly audible -- but this only adds to the verisimilitude of the recording. While not for everybody, the Boulez Ring has to be heard by anyone who loves the work.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), opera, WWV 86a
1 03:57
2 02:27
3 05:00
4 02:16
5 05:59
6 01:50
7 02:48
8 03:03
9 05:56
10 07:06
11 01:44
12 03:44
13 05:51
14 04:29
15 04:50
16 05:04
17 01:47
18 04:10

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), opera, WWV 86a
1 03:52
2 02:38
3 04:41
4 04:59
5 03:16
6 03:40
7 02:34
8 03:26
9 04:24
10 04:13
11 02:48
12 02:44
13 02:17
14 02:28
15 05:12
16 03:25
17 02:42
18 02:22
19 04:44
20 03:25

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b
1 03:32
2 02:40
3 09:06
4 04:44
5 03:52
6 05:49
7 05:15
8 06:47
9 05:24
10 09:32
11 05:18
12 04:35
13 03:21

Track Listing - Disc 6

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Siegfried, opera, WWV 86c
1 03:51
2 05:43
3 02:33
4 04:39
5 05:00
6 02:45
7 03:40
8 03:12
9 05:33
10 03:31
11 05:03
12 02:11
13 01:56
14 04:06
15 04:45
16 03:19
17 07:11
18 03:02
19 02:52

Track Listing - Disc 7

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Siegfried, opera, WWV 86c
1 05:35
2 05:13
3 06:14
4 02:12
5 03:54
6 03:41
7 02:33
8 01:27
9 02:44
10 03:16
11 03:08
12 01:40
13 02:22
14 05:23
15 02:09
16 04:57
17 03:04
18 03:51
19 06:35
20 04:00

Track Listing - Disc 8

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Siegfried, opera, WWV 86c
1 02:07
2 02:02
3 09:47
4 03:28
5 00:59
6 05:36
7 05:35
8 02:48
9 02:05
10 03:51
11 06:42
12 05:25
13 05:58
14 07:55
15 11:15

Track Listing - Disc 12

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Die Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), opera, WWV 86d
1 06:47
2 06:04
3 05:44
4 04:05
5 02:21
6 08:48
7 03:23
8 06:21
9 07:06
10 03:11
11 08:17
12 03:49
13 02:05
14 04:00
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