Richard Wagner Der Ring Des Nibelungen
(Limited Production 14 SACD/ CD hybrid re-masters and 1 historical DVD).

Sir Georg Solti
Wiener Philharmoniker

Decca masterpiece collection vol.3

The reissue of this Decca masterpiece series by ESOTERIC has attracted a lot of attention, both for its uncompromising commitment to recreating the original master sound, and for using hybrid Super Audio CD (SACD) technology to improve sound quality. This series marks the first hybrid SACD release of two selections that have been mainstays of the catalog since their initial release on LP, until the present digital age of CD. These new audio versions feature DSD mastering of the original recordings.

Experience by yourself...

Experience the legendary performance in this new Super Audio CD/CD format. Not only for new followers, but also for well experienced followers of these recorded materials. All will be equally impressed by the "soul" hidden within the notes, but never before found in previously released recordings.

ESOTERIC equipment used for re-mastering

The criterion of re-mastering is to faithfully capture the quality of the original master tapes. ESOTERIC's flag ship D/A converters, model D-01VU, Rubidium master clock generator model G-0Rb and ESOTERIC MEXCEL cables, were all used for this re-mastering session. This combination of highly advanced technology greatly contributed to capturing and improving the high quality sound of the original master tapes.

The first original recording of Wagner's "Ring"

Starting with "Das Rheingold" in 1958, followed by "Siegfried" (1962), "Gotterdammerung" (1964), and finally "Die Walkyre" (1965), Decca spent a total of 8 years in the studio working to produce the complete collection of the musical drama "Der Ring des Nibelungen". This grand undertaking was more than just the first full recording of this work. It was also the birth of a timeless masterpiece that has seen neither its value nor enchantment diminish in the 45 years since its completion and initial release.

The ensemble for this recording is nothing short of spectacular. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Georg Solti, who was in his forties at this time, the preeminent Wagner vocalists of the 20th, and acclaimed producer and "avid" Wagnerian John Culshaw, were all brought together to perform this masterpiece. Together they produced a recording full of passion and purpose. This complete collection is the single greatest recording of the "Ring", allowing listeners to experience the glorious sound of the concert hall in their own home. This recording was also epoch-making for it revolutionized the way opera was recorded.

Uncompromising attention to detail reflected in this unrivaled masterpiece

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra enjoys special distinction for its long history of performing Wagner as part of its regular repertoire. Under the direction of Solti, the orchestra adds flesh and blood to this piece, delivering a rich and robust performance that does not neglect a single note (as of yet this is the only complete recording from Decca of Wagner's "Ring" performed by the VPO). In regards to the vocals, the premiere vocalists of the 20th century were brought together, with each cast in the role best suited to their respective talents.

The casting by producer Culshaw is flawless, and is further complemented by regular performers of Wagner's operas for Bayreuther Festspiele such as Nilsson, Windgassen, Hotter, Neidlinger, and Stolze. Flagstad, who was well-known in the first half of the 20th century for her portrayal of Brunhild, was recruited to play the part of Fricka (mezzo soprano). Fischer-Dieskau was entrusted with the role of Gunther, a character who had yet to be performed on stage. In addition, younger vocalists of the time, such as Popp, Fassbaender, Sutherland and Jones, were given a chance to showcase their talents through their portrayal of minor characters.

Painstakingly recreates the acoustics and stage directions as Wagner originally intended

Culshaw assembled all the special instruments Wagner specified for this epic cycle, such as six harps (used in "Das Rheingold"), and steel horns (used in "Gotterdammerung"). Culshaw also made sure to reproduce the various sound effects, such as the cries of the Nibelungs, the sound of anvils they pound, the thunder generated by Donner (used in "Das Rheingold"), the change in Alberich's voice when he dons the magic helmet, and the sound Valhalla collapsing into ruin during the finale (used in "Gotterdammerung").

It's worth noting that Culshaw went to special effort to faithfully follow Wagner's directions to create these sounds (the positioning of the characters and individual instruments; character movements, etc.), and achieve a sense of spatiality from a stereophonic perspective. It is safe to say that he succeeded in this effect.

Ideal recording venue produces an unparalleled recording

Sofiensaal, which Decca had regularly used since the mid 1950s for conducting recordings in Vienna, perfectly suited Decca's recording needs by providing a venue that enabled each sound to be recorded in clear detail. The recordings made at Sofiensaal, have become synonymous with Decca's unique and vigorous sound that vividly reproduces the spatiality and subtle expression of the orchestration.

For this recording, the main emphasis was not placed upon the vocals, as was often the case with conventional opera recordings. Rather, the orchestra was elevated to match the level of the vocalists - allowing the drama Wagner had assigned to the orchestra to clearly unfold.

The first new re-master in twelve years - SACD/CD hybridization achieves the best in sound

This recording was initially sold separately by opera. However in 1968 these records were combined into a single box set of twenty-two records that also contained three additional collections of leitmotifs. This "tour de force," generated a great sensation upon the collection's original LP release, and was acclaimed for the superior recording quality and musical performance, earning it a number of recording awards all around the world.

Although the recording significantly overran the originally projected budget for production, sales were highly successful. Since its original release, this collection has been re-released time and time again, securing its legacy as a timeless masterpiece that will never disappear from music catalogs. In 1983, as LP records were slowing fading into obsolescence, this recording was recut as a set of fourteen LP records. A TELEFUNKEN's DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) version was also sold. The first CD conversion of this recording was in 1985. The next attempt to re-master the original recording was not until 1997. This was because the first CD re-master was considered to be one of the finest re-mastered recordings produced during the early days of CD. The re-mastering conducted in 1997 was produced by James Lock, the engineer who was involved in the original recording. It was highly praised for successfully reducing the hissing tape noise inherent in early stereo recordings.

"In a reader's poll of the top 10 masterpieces of the 20th century, conducted last year by a magazine in the UK, this first complete recording of Wagner's "Ring" was ranked No.1. This is perhaps due to the fact that listeners not only hold this collection in high regard for the superior musical performance, but also for the high quality of the actual recording. Likewise, the fact that this magnificent opus, which seemed to be far from profitable, became a bestseller and forever changed the world of recording, also helped to secure its place at the top the poll. Needless to say the direction of Solti, the performance of the VPO, and the revolutionary recording itself are beyond compare. However, looking back, one may say that it is truly fortunate the recording was conducted while Nilsson and Windgassen were at the height of their careers, and Hotter was only slightly past his prime as he portrayed Wotan. This is truly a monumental timeless performance and recording."

(ONTOMOMOOK Corpus of Classical Music Masterpieces - Opera/Cantata, 2000).

Decca SACD - Vol.3 Producer Comments
Decca SACD - Vol.3 Producer Comments
49.6 KiB
Decca SACD - Vol.3 Product Info
Decca SACD - Vol.3 Product Info
1.1 MiB