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Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Hans Swarowsky

Wagner / Grosses Czechisches Syphonieorchester
Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Profil   Catalog #: 10034   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Ursula BoeseRolf PolkeGerald McKeeRudolf Knoll,   ... 
Conductor:  Hans Swarowsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre OrchestraCzech Philharmonic members
Number of Discs: 14 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Vinyl collectors may remember Hans Swarowsky’s 1968 Ring Cycle more for the Westminster Gold release’s campy soft-porn cover art than the actual music making. In 1995 Weltbild Classics brought out a CD edition, remastered by its original producer Heinz Schürer, with booklet notes by Kurt Malisch. Profil now offers the same remasterings and annotations in a space-saving boxed set, minus each opera’s plot synopsis.

All four operas were recorded within an unusually tight four-week session schedule, and featured singers active on the European Wagnerian circuit, plus the so-called “Grosses Symphonieorchester”, made up of musicians from the Czech Philharmonic, the Prague National Theater, and local German orchestras. Surveying
Read more Wagner’s Ring for the book Opera on Record, the late Alan Blyth wrote that he did not intend “to waste space on the Swarowsky account, inferior in almost every respect.” Yet although this “ugly duckling” of commercially released Ring Cycles is indeed a provincial affair compared to its contemporaneous studio counterparts (Solti and Karajan), there are enough memorable moments to hold one’s interest.

Tempos generally are brisk and forward moving, with crisply balanced brass and wind playing that compensates for the generally undernourished strings and rough-around-the-edges ensemble attacks and releases. The voices are tightly miked to the point where they often dominate the orchestra, yet some listeners might feel that this brings the text more into the foreground. The Czech soprano Nadezda Kniplova’s strident yet passionate, genuinely dramatic Brünnhilde commands almost as much attention as Rolf Polke’s solidly sung and thoughtfully acted Wotan. Gerald McKee’s Siegmund and Siegfried convey impressive tonal heft and power, except for his painfully constricted sustained high notes.

The superb and underrated Fritz Uhl (he and Birgit Nilsson sang the lead roles in Georg Solti’s equally underrated studio recording of Tristan und Isolde) turns in a wily and engaging Loge, and if you like a gentle but well-focused bass rather than a booming malevolent type for Hagen, then Otto von Rohr’s your man. Rolf Kuhne’s Alberich also stands out for vocal authority and multi-leveled characterization, from his lyrical longings wooing the Rheinmaidens to the defiant intensity with which he relinquishes and curses the coveted ring. As both Sieglinde and Gutrune, Ditha Sommer is best in soft, lower-lying passages, but her unruly wobble hurts.

At the very least, Profil deserves credit for thoughtfully repackaging a flawed yet vital Ring at a reasonable price, notwithstanding the fact that the artistically superior live Böhm (Decca) and studio Janowski (Sony/BMG) versions cost less.

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

Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Ursula Boese (Mezzo Soprano), Rolf Polke (Bass), Gerald McKee (Tenor),
Rudolf Knoll (Baritone), Heidemaria Ferch (Soprano), Ruth Hesse (Mezzo Soprano),
Takao Okamura (Bass), Herold Kraus (Tenor), Ditha Sommer (Soprano),
Otto Von Rohr (Bass), Rolf Kühne (Bass), Fritz Uhl (Tenor),
Nadezda Kniplova (Soprano)
Conductor:  Hans Swarowsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853-1874; Germany 
Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Fritz Uhl (Tenor), Herold Kraus (Tenor), Rolf Kühne (Bass),
Heidemaria Ferch (Soprano), Ruth Hesse (Mezzo Soprano), Takao Okamura (Bass),
Ursula Boese (Mezzo Soprano), Rudolf Knoll (Baritone), Herbert Doussant (Tenor),
Rolf Polke (Bass), Otto Von Rohr (Bass)
Conductor:  Hans Swarowsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854; Germany 
Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Otto Von Rohr (Bass), Rolf Polke (Bass), Ditha Sommer (Soprano),
Nadezda Kniplova (Soprano), Ruth Hesse (Mezzo Soprano), Heidemaria Ferch (Soprano),
Liselotte Becker-Egner (Soprano), Angelika Berger (), Margit Kobeck-Peters (Mezzo Soprano),
Bella Jasper (Soprano), Hilde Roser (), Erika Schubert (Mezzo Soprano),
Ingrid Göritz (Alto), Gerald McKee (Tenor)
Conductor:  Hans Swarowsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Siegfried by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Rolf Polke (Bass), Rolf Kühne (Bass), Herold Kraus (Tenor),
Takao Okamura (Bass), Nadezda Kniplova (Soprano), Ursula Boese (Mezzo Soprano),
Gerald McKee (Tenor), Bella Jasper (Soprano)
Conductor:  Hans Swarowsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Germany 
Götterdämmerung by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Ditha Sommer (Soprano), Rolf Kühne (Bass), Erika Schubert (Mezzo Soprano),
Nadezda Kniplova (Soprano), Gerald McKee (Tenor), Rudolf Knoll (Baritone),
Otto Von Rohr (Bass), Ingrid Göritz (Alto), Ruth Hesse (Mezzo Soprano),
Margit Kobeck-Peters (Mezzo Soprano), Siw Ericsdotter (Soprano), Bella Jasper (Soprano),
Liselotte Becker-Egner (Soprano)
Conductor:  Hans Swarowsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871-1874; Germany 

Sound Samples

Das Rheingold: Scene 1: Vorspiel
Das Rheingold: Scene 1: Weia! Waga! Woge, du Welle! (Rhinemaidens, Alberich)
Das Rheingold: Scene 1: Garstig glatter glitschiger Glimmer! (Alberich, Rhinemaidens)
Das Rheingold: Scene 1: Wallala! Wallala! lalaleia, leialalei! (Rhinemaidens, Alberich)
Das Rheingold: Scene 1: Lugt, Schwestern! Die Weckerin lacht in den Grund (Rhinemaidens, Alberich)
Das Rheingold: Scene 1: Der Welt Erbe gewann' ich zu eigen durch dich? (Alberich, Rhinemaidens)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Einleitung
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Wotan! Gemahl! Erwache! (Fricka, Wotan)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Nur Wonne schafft dir, was mich erschreckt? (Fricka, Wotan, Freia)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Sanft schloss Schlaf dein Aug'! (Fasolt, Wotan, Fafner, Freia)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Zu mir, Freia! Meide sie, Frecher! (Froh, Donner, Fafner, Freia)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Endlich Loge! Eiltest du so (Wotan, Loge, Fricka, Froh, Donner, Fafner, Fasolt)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Immer ist Undank Loges Lohn! (Loge, Wotan, Fasolt, Fafner)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Taugte wohl des goldnen Tandes (Fricka, Loge, Wotan, Donner, Froh, Fafner)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Hor', Wotan, der Harrenden Wort! (Fafner, Wotan, Fasolt, Freia, Froh, Donner, Loge, Fricka)
Das Rheingold: Scene 2: Jetzt fand ich's: hort, was euch fehlt! (Loge, Fricka, Wotan, Donner, Froh)
Das Rheingold: Scene 3: Verwandlungsmusik
Das Rheingold: Scene 3: Hehe! Hehe! Hieher! Hieher! Tuckischer Zwerg! (Alberich, Mime, Loge, Wotan)
Das Rheingold: Scene 3: Wer halfe mir? (Mime, Loge, Wotan)
Das Rheingold: Scene 3: Mit eurem Gefrage (Mime, Loge, Wotan, Alberich)
Das Rheingold: Scene 3: Was wollt ihr hier? (Alberich, Wotan, Loge)
Das Rheingold: Scene 3: Habt Acht! Habt Acht! (Alberich, Wotan, Loge)
Das Rheingold: Scene 3: Riesen-Wurm winde sich ringelnd! (Alberich, Loge, Wotan)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Verwandlungsmusik
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Da, Vetter, sitze du fest! (Loge, Alberich, Wotan)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Wohlan, die Nibelungen rief ich mir nah' (Alberich, Wotan, Loge)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Zu deiner Losung musst du ihn lassen (Wotan, Alberich, Loge)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Bin ich nun frei, "Alberich's curse" (Alberich)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Lauschtest du seinem Liebesgruss? (Loge, Wotan, Froh, Donner, Fricka)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Halt! Nicht sie beruhrt! (Fasolt, Wotan, Fafner, Loge, Froh)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Nicht so leicht und locker gefugt! (Fafner, Loge, Wotan, Fricka, Donner)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Freia, die Schone, schau' ich nicht mehr (Fasolt, Fafner, Loge, Wotan, Freia, Fricka, Froh, Donner)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Weiche, Wotan, weiche! Flieh' des Ringes Fluch! (Erda, Wotan, Fricka, Froh)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Hort, ihr Riesen! (Donner, Freia, Wotan, Fasolt, Fafner, Loge)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Furchtbar nun erfind' ich des Fluches Kraft! (Wotan, Loge, Fricka)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Schwules Gedunst schwebt in der Luft (Donner)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Zur Burg fuhrt die Brucke (Froh, Wotan, Fricka, Loge)
Das Rheingold: Scene 4: Rheingold! Rheingold! Reines Gold! (Rhinemaidens, Wotan, Loge)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Down memory lane September 24, 2013 By Martin H. (Gilbert, AZ) See All My Reviews "This was my first Ring, when I bought the enormous Westminster package some 40 years ago. Being a naïve kid, what did I know? I had nothing to compare it to, and so for my ears this was the definitive Ring. Swarowsky was a great teacher, but I've bought a lot of his recordings on cd and great conductor he is not. I haven't heard this set in some 30 years, but will likely buy it out of curiosity. Who knows, maybe it will stand up well to Solti, Karajan, Bohm, Janowski and others. But I will sure miss the original artwork on the Westminster set. That picture has to be on the web somewhere." Report Abuse
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