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Sir Georg Solti & Wiener Philharmoniker / Richard Wagner Der Ring Des Nibelungen Embodying the essence of the 20th century interpretation of Wagner, this is truly a monumental release in the history of recording. More than a half-century since the initial release of 泥as Rheingold, state-of-art 21st century re-mastering technology has breathed new life into the original Decca recording.
Distributed exclusively by ESOTERIC COMPANY Abailable from end of December, 2009 Limited edition; 1,000 sets

Sold out (April, 2010)

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 the title 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 newly created DSD master.

The first original recording of Wagner痴 迭ing

Starting with 泥as Rheingold in 1958, followed by 鉄iegfried (1962), 敵ötterdämmerung (1964), and finally 泥ie Walküre (1965), Decca spent a total of 8 years in the studio working to produce the complete collection of the musical drama 泥er 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 殿vid 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 迭ing, 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.

Staff listening to the playback.

Staff listening to the playback. Front row, from left: Pitz, Dieskau, Culshaw, Solti, Nilsson, Windgassen, and Flick. Standing in the back is Boskovsky, who served as concert master of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

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痴 迭ing 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 泥as Rheingold), and steel horns (used in 敵tterd舂merung). 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 泥as Rheingold), the change in Alberich痴 voice when he dons the magic helmet, and the sound Valhalla collapsing into ruin during the finale (used in 敵tterd舂merung).

It痴 worth noting that Culshaw went to special effort to faithfully follow Wagner痴 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痴 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痴 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. Solti and Culshaw

Solti and Culshaw. They are wearing sneakers to prevent noise when walking across the floor.

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 鍍our de force, generated a great sensation upon the collection痴 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痴 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.

的n a reader痴 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痴 然ing 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)

Title and track list
Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Ein Bühnenfestpiel für 3 Tage und 1 Vorabend
Der Ring Des Nibelungen
Vorabend: DAS RHEINGOLD
[ESSD-90021-22 (2 discs)]
Erster Tag: DIE WALKÜRE
[ESSD-90023-26 (4 discs)]
Zweiter Tag: SIEGFRIED
[ESSD-90027-30 (4 discs)]
Dritter Tag: GÖTTERDÜMMERUNG
[ESSD-90031-34 (4 discs)]
Performance
Wiener Philharmoniker
Conducted by Sir Georg Solti
Chor der Wiener Staatsoper / Chor-Meister: Wilhelm Pitz
(GÖTTERDÜMMERUNG)
Recording
Producer:
John Culshaw

Engineer:
Gordon Parry, James Brown

Location:
Sofiensaal, Vienna

Recrding date:
DAS RHEINGOLD Sept. - Oct., 1958
DIE WALKÜRE May & Oct. - Nov., 1962
SIEGFRIED May - June & Oct. - Nov., 1964
GÖTTERDÜMMERUNG Oct. - Nov., 1965
Re-mastering
Producer:
Motoaki Ohmachi (ESOTERIC COMPANY)

Mastering Engineer:
Kazuie Sugimoto (JVC Mastering Center)
■ Product ID: ESSD-90021 90034 (14 discs)
■ Format: SA-CD/CD Hybrid
■ Label: Decca
■ DSD mastering / SA-CD layer: Stereo / CD layer: ADD
■ Original German lylics / Japanese translation book + literature: 迭ing resounding by john Culshaw (Japanese) + BBC documentary DVD video (NTSC / Region free)
■ Box set / deluxe Digipak packaging
■ Limited edition (1,000 sets)


The Sofiensaal recording session

The Sofiensaal recording session. Note the Decca Tree microphones hanging above the conductor. Numerous sub-microphones were used to capture the sound of a large orchestra.