Notes and Editorial Reviews
The contrast, many years went by before Wagner’s opus summum gained a place in the recording repertoire. The first attempt to record part of the “Ring” produced 122 shellac disc sides between 1926 and 1932. The first complete studio recording under Georg Solti had to wait until the invention of long-playing records and extended over a period of several years, from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. The present recording, originally a coproduction of the German “Polyband” company and the Italian “Fratelli Fabbri” publishing house was the first to feature the same singers for the principal figures who appear a number of times in various parts of the tetralogy: Wotan, Brünnhilde, Siegfried, Alberich, Mime, Fricka, Erda, Fafner, and the Rheinmaidens. The artistic unity of the production was a factor of its tight recording schedule – but was nonetheless a small miracle. In August 1968, in the midst of the Nuremberg recording sessions, Soviet troops marched into Czechoslovakia. The borders were closed, and the musicians of the Czech Philharmonic were faced with the frightening prospect of not being able to return home. Heinz Schürer, production head, sound engineer, and director in one, recalls that orchestra members would fail to turn up at rehearsals and recording sessions whenever it was reported that the borders had been opened up for a short time. Thanks to the cooperation of members of the local Nuremberg orchestras, the gaps could always be filled on short notice. The ensemble that came about during this course of musical and political events was named the “Großes Symphonieorchester”.
Another remarkable fact about this “Ring” production was that it was immediately followed by a complete recording of “Lohengrin”, also under the musical direction of Hans Swarowsky and with the Vienna State Opera Chorus and the “Großes Symphonieorchester” but for most part with different vocal soloists. No more than four weeks were available for both recordings. The “Götterdämmerung” and “Lohengrin” choruses had to be recorded in the short space of three days. The Vienna State Opera Chorus had come to Nuremberg from Salzburg Festival for the recording and did not have more time then those three days. For reasons of time and money, the recordings could not be made with modern stereo technique, and the dual-track procedure employed presented enormous technical problems, especially when it came to echo effects. Last but not least, the “deluxe packaging” of the “Ring” or “Anello del Nibelungo” by the Fratelli Fabbri also deserves special mention. The recording was released on no less than thirty-two 25cm discs in dark-blue velvet sleeves with gold lettering. The inserts contained lavish illustrations and explanatory texts. “Westminster”, an American label, rereleased the recording in the 1970s, this time on normal long-playing records.