Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Shuard, Windgassen, Ward, Hotter, Jones, Kozub; Solti. London, 1965
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Despite the fact that Georg Solti’s name has now become forever linked to Wagner’s Ring Cycle, he seems to have conducted only a few complete cycles. His last outing was in 1983 at Bayreuth. Sadly it became clear that he had lost his insight into Wagner’s tetrology creating an overly-analyzed and mannered performance. In many ways this performance, from 1965, may be his finest recording of the Ring. Notorious in the studio for insisting on take after take, to the detriment of any kind of freshness, he is forced to rely more on his instincts which prove to be wiser in many ways than his obsession with perfection. The orchestration sounds like a living organism the undulates and breaths with the action on stage. The cast assembled is first rate. Amy Shuard brings a beauty and youthfulness that is rarely associated with Brünnhilde. Wolfgang Windgassen and Gottlob Frick reprise their roles as Siegfried and Hagen, respectively and a young Gwyneth Jones gets to dip her toe into the Wagner pool, delivering a red-hot Sieglinde aided in no small part to the superb Siegmund of Ernst Kozub. This should be a priceless document to anyone who grew up listening to the Solti Ring. The sound is fair to good.