Various Artists

Wagner: Heavy Classix

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Offering orchestral excerpts and vocal highlights from Richard Wagner's music dramas, this double-disc collection is a generous serving of analog recordings that have been staples in Deutsche Grammophon's catalog for decades. The roster of conductors is an honor roll, including such revered Wagnerians as Herbert von Karajan, Karl Böhm, Eugen Jochum, Rafael Kubelik, and Otto Gerdes, and their legendary performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the German Opera Berlin are among the finest the label has ever recorded. The pieces are representative of Wagner's highly dramatic Romantic style and are among his greatest hits, though such a survey is bound to leave out some cherished selection, due to space considerations. All the same, this album serves as a solid introduction, giving listeners music from each of the major operas, Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal, as well as providing key scenes from Der Ring des Nibelungen, notably The Ride of the Valkyries, Siegfried's Rhine Journey, Siegfried's Funeral Music, and Brunnhilde's Immolation Scene. The playing and singing are exciting enough to make newcomers seek out more of Wagner's music and may lead some to look for the complete recordings on Deutsche Grammophon.

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