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Wagner: Complete Operas [43-CD Set]

Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001786402  
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Don GarrardElisabeth GaleDella JonesApril Cantelo,   ... 
Conductor:  Edward DownesHeinrich HollreiserGiuseppe SinopoliSir Georg Solti,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Northern SymphonyBBC Northern SingersLeipzig Radio Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 43 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Deutsche Grammophon’s 43-CD survey of Richard Wagner’s complete operas may well have the field to itself for overall quality and consistency. For starters, the label has licensed the best and most complete recorded versions of the composer’s three early, non-canonical operas. Wagner’s first two works in the genre, Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot, appear in a pair of excellent and idiomatically vibrant BBC Bayreuth Centennial broadcast recordings led by Edward Downes. Wagner’s style may not have formed by then (Weber, Mendelssohn, and even Berlioz come to mind), yet the young composer’s confidence, energy, and often imaginative orchestrations almost always hold attention.

EMI’s 1976 Rienzi remains the most extensive documentation
Read more of Wagner’s first big success that we’re likely to have in a studio recording, and you can read my original review here. Giuseppe Sinopoli’s brisk and suave Der fliegende Holländer features Bernd Weikl’s light and beautifully nuanced Dutchman, Placido Domingo’s ardent, ringing Erik, and an ideal Senta from Cheryl Studer. The Domingo/Studer/Sinopoli Tannhäuser also stands as a modern reference for the opera’s Paris version included here. For both Domingo and Jessye Norman in their respective Wagnerian primes, it’s good to reconnect with the 1986 Lohengrin under Solti, whose 1972 Parsifal (the work’s first studio recording) brings out a wider range of dynamic and dramatic contrasts than many smoother, more reverential interpretations.

A younger, fresher Domingo presides as Walther in Eugen Jochum’s 1975 Die Meistersinger, not to mention Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s multi-dimensional portrayal of Hans Sachs. My colleague Robert Levine wrote a fair and perceptive critique on the Carlos Kleiber Tristan und Isolde, and I still stand by my generally favorable comments about the (James) Levine studio Metropolitan Opera Ring Cycle.

Fortunately, DG has not skimped on the packaging. The inner sleeves feature newly commissioned sketches for each opera by Fred Münzmaier, and are housed in a rigid cube with a hinged lid for easy access. A 140-page soft-cover booklet features excellent, informative notes by Christian Wildhagen, full synopses, cast lists, and recording dates, while purchasers are provided with a URL and password to access full texts and translations. You may not necessarily agree with DG’s choice for each opera; I’d have selected the harder-to-find and arguably better-cast Bernstein or Goodall Tristans, or Karajan’s not-as-well sung yet instrumentally rapturous Parsifal. Still, the DG Wagner Edition’s artistic and sonic virtues, modest price tag, and comprehensiveness add up to a wise and rewarding investment.

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Die Feen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Don Garrard (Bass), Elisabeth Gale (Soprano), Della Jones (Mezzo Soprano),
April Cantelo (Soprano), Lorna Haywood (Soprano), Tom McDonnell (Bass),
Paul Hudson (Bass), Teresa Cahill (Soprano), Richard Greager (Tenor),
John Mitchinson (Tenor), Jolyon Dodgson (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Northern Symphony,  BBC Northern Singers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1834; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/02/1976 
Venue:  Live  Concert Hall, BBC North, Manchester 
Language: German 
Das Liebesverbot by Richard Wagner
Performer:  William Elvin (Baritone), Leslie Fyson (Baritone), April Cantelo (Soprano),
Elizabeth Gale (Voice), Neil Jenkins (Tenor), Ilse Wolf (Soprano),
David Lennox (Tenor), Ian Caley (Tenor), Alexander Young (Tenor),
Lawrence Richard (Bass)
Conductor:  Edward Downes
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Northern Symphony,  BBC Northern Singers
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/23/1976 
Rienzi by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Peter Schreier (Tenor), Siv Wennberg (Soprano), René Kollo (Tenor),
Janis Martin (Mezzo Soprano), Nikolaus Hillebrand (Bass), Theo Adam (Bass Baritone),
Siegfried Vogel (Bass), Günther Leib (Baritone), Ingeborg Springer (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Heinrich Hollreiser
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Staatskapelle Dresden,  Dresden State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1843; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1974-76 
Venue:  Lukaskirche, Dresden, East Germany 
Length: 218 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: German 
Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Cheryl Studer (Mezzo Soprano), Bernd Weikl (Baritone), Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Peter Seiffert (Tenor), Hans Sotin (Bass), Ute Priew (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/1991 
Venue:  Grosser Sendesaal, SFB, Berlin, Germany 
Length: 135 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: German 
Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Agnes Baltsa (Mezzo Soprano), Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Placido Domingo (Tenor),
Matti Salminen (Bass), Kurt Rydl (Bass), Oskar Hillebrandt (Baritone),
Clemens Bieber (Tenor), Cheryl Studer (Soprano), Barbara Bonney (Soprano),
Margaret Stobart (Soprano), Ingrid Baier (Mezzo Soprano), Jeanette Wilson (Soprano),
Karen Shelby (Mezzo Soprano), William Pell (Tenor)
Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1988 
Venue:  Watford Town Hall, London, England 
Length: 196 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: German 
Lohengrin by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Jessye Norman (Soprano), Eva Randová (Mezzo Soprano), Siegmund Nimsgern (Baritone),
Hans Sotin (Bass), Placido Domingo (Tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 
Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Birgitta Svendén (Alto), James Morris (Bass Baritone), Siegfried Jerusalem (Tenor),
Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Baritone), Jessye Norman (Soprano),
Kurt Moll (Bass), Heinz Zednik (Tenor), Gary Lakes (Tenor),
Matti Salminen (Bass), Hildegard Behrens (Soprano), Dawn Upshaw (Soprano)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853-1874; Germany 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Language: German 
Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Diane Kesling (Mezzo Soprano), Siegfried Jerusalem (Tenor), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Bass),
Heinz Zednik (Tenor), Kurt Moll (Bass), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Bass),
Hong Hei-Kyung (Soprano), Birgitta Svendén (Mezzo Soprano), Mari Anne Häggander (Soprano),
Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), Mark Baker (Tenor), James Morris (Bass),
Meredith Parsons (Alto), Siegfried Lorenz (Baritone)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; Germany 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Language: German 
Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Hildegard Behrens (Soprano), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), Marita Napier (Soprano),
Marilyn Mims (Soprano), Reinhild Runkel (Alto), Anne Wilkens (Mezzo Soprano),
Meredith Parsons (Alto), Diane Kesling (Mezzo Soprano), Linda Kelm (Soprano),
Ruthild Engert (Mezzo Soprano), Jessye Norman (Soprano), James Morris (Bass),
Kurt Moll (Bass), Gary Lakes (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Language: German 
Siegfried by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Kathleen Battle (Soprano), Hildegard Behrens (Soprano), Birgitta Svendén (Mezzo Soprano),
Kurt Moll (Bass), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Bass), Heinz Zednik (Tenor),
James Morris (Bass), Reiner Goldberg (Tenor)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Germany 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Language: German 
Götterdämmerung by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Hong Hei-Kyung (Soprano), Matti Salminen (Bass), Helga Dernesch (Mezzo Soprano),
Reiner Goldberg (Tenor), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Bass), Hildegard Behrens (Soprano),
Hanna Schwarz (Mezzo Soprano), Bernd Weikl (Baritone), Cheryl Studer (Soprano),
Tatiana Troyanos (Mezzo Soprano), Andrea Gruber (Soprano), Diane Kesling (Mezzo Soprano),
Meredith Parsons (Alto)
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871-1874; Germany 
Venue:  Manhattan Center, New York City 
Language: German 
Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), René Kollo (Tenor), Kurt Moll (Bass),
Werner Götz (Baritone), Margaret Price (Soprano), Anton Dermota (Tenor),
Brigitte Fassbaender (Mezzo Soprano), Eberhard Büchner (Tenor), Wolfgang Hellmich (Baritone)
Conductor:  Carlos Kleiber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leipzig Radio Chorus,  Staatskapelle Dresden
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Length: 233 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: German 
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Miomir Nikolic (Bass), Roland Hermann (Baritone), Peter Lagger (Bass),
Peter Maus (Tenor), Klaus Lang (Baritone), Christa Ludwig (Alto),
Ivan Sardi (Bass), Victor von Halem (Bass), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone),
Horst Laubenthal (Tenor), Placido Domingo (Tenor), Catarina Ligendza (Soprano),
Karl-Ernst Mercker (Tenor), Martin Vantin (Tenor), Loren Driscoll (Tenor),
Gerd Feldhoff (Baritone), Roberto Banuelas (Baritone)
Conductor:  Eugen Jochum
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsche Oper Chorus,  Berlin Deutsche Oper Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862-1867; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1976 
Length: 263 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Language: German 
Parsifal by Richard Wagner
Performer:  René Kollo (Tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano),
Zoltan Kélémén (Bass), Hans Hotter (Baritone), Gottlob Frick (Bass),
Robert Tear (Tenor), Herbert Lackner (Baritone), Birgit Finnilä (Alto),
Rotraud Hansmann (Soprano), Marga Schiml (Mezzo Soprano), Heinz Zednik (Tenor),
Ewald Aichberger (Tenor), Lucia Popp (Soprano), Alison Hargan (Soprano),
Anne Howells (Mezzo Soprano), Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Soprano), Gillian Knight (Mezzo Soprano),
Margarita Lilowa (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Boys' Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1972 
Venue:  Sofiensaal, Vienna 
Length: 259 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Language: German 

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