This recording is part of what has long been regarded as one of the key Ring cycles, certainly of the mono era, but also more generally. A review by Steve Taylor at the Wagner Discography website states:
However, he does go on to comment on the sound, labelling it as merely "acceptable". Meanwhile a correspondent and friend of this site wrote directly to me a short time ago:
I decided to investigate the possibility and started out with a few test settings for XR remastering. Quickly realising that these recordings most certainly could benefit enormously from this type of remastering I decided to bite the bullet and begin work on what we expect to become Pristine's first full Ring cycle.
The results are often astonishing - like the lifting of multiple layers of grime from an old painting to see bright colours resplendent beneath. Gone is the boxiness of previous issues, and in its place is a full and deep bass alongside a greatly extended treble, with huge impact on clarity of both voices and instruments, coupled with great dramatic impact.
Thanks to our download system we're also able to present the opera in a completely uninterrupted format both for FLAC and MP3 purchasers. The CDs are faded in such a way as to slightly overlap at the end of Scene Two and start of Scene Three, but nothing is lost here either.
This opera is of course already available - in its full cycle - on budget-priced CDs. I think when you hear the advances I've managed to make for this release you'll consider it an investment of time and effort worthy of your consideration.
For a full biography of Wagner, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner
For programme notes on The Ring Cycle, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Der_Ring_des_Nibelungen
For notes on Bayreuth Festival, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayreuth_Festival
notes from Wikipedia
Hans Hotter (19 January 1909 – 6 December 2003) was a German operatic bass-baritone, admired internationally after World War II for the power, beauty, and intelligence of his singing, especially in Wagner operas. He was extremely tall and his appearance was striking because of his high, narrow face, wide mouth, and big, aquiline nose. His voice and diction were equally recognisable.
Born in Offenbach am Main, Hotter studied with Matthäus Roemer in Munich. He worked as an organist and choirmaster before making his operatic debut in Opava in 1930.
He performed in Germany and Austria under the Nazi regime, but was unable to pursue an international career until his Covent Garden debut in 1947. After that time, he sang in all the major opera houses of Europe. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut as the title role in The Flying Dutchman (in English) in 1950. In four seasons at the Met, he performed 35 times in 13 roles, almost all Wagnerian.
Probably Hotter's best known vocal achievement was his Wotan in Der Ring des Nibelungen, which he began singing at the beginning of the 1950s and owned until the mid-1960s, by which time his voice had begun to display an incipient wobble due to hard use and a chronic back injury.
Just in time to capture him in something near his prime, however, his interpretation of Wotan in the operas Die Walküre and Siegfried was documented as part of the first commercial recording of the Ring Cycle in the early 1960s, with conductor Georg Solti and record producer John Culshaw officiating. In addition, his interpretation of the role of Wotan was captured on live recordings from the Bayreuth Festival conducted by Clemens Krauss and Joseph Keilberth. He also directed a complete Ring at Covent Garden from 1961 to 1964. His magnificent portrayal of Gurnemanz in Parsifal was preserved on record in Hans Knappertsbusch's second live recording at Bayreuth; in his old age he switched to the same opera's briefer, and less demanding, part of Titurel (also captured on record).
A much-admired Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, he nevertheless preferred to sing the smaller role of Pogner later in his career, because its range was better suited to his voice. Similarly, he sang in Parsifal as Amfortas when he was younger, and switched to Gurnemanz as he aged. He was also celebrated for his Pizarro in Beethoven's Fidelio, of which a live 1960s recording from Covent Garden was issued for the first time in 2005.
Although his international fame was almost entirely in the German repertoire, in Germany itself he was also known for performing Verdi in the vernacular and was, for example a popular Falstaff and a formidable Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo. He performed, and recorded, several non-German opera roles in German translation, including "Graf Almaviva" (Mozart), Boris Godunov, and Don Basilio (Rossini).
As a Lieder singer he had few peers. Among German male singers of the 1950s and 1960s, only Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau commanded such widespread admiration and affection. Hotter, like his younger colleague, brought a true feeling for words as well as music to the songs of Schubert, Schumann, and others.
His memoirs describe how he got into trouble by making fun of Hitler at parties. According to Hotter's obituary in The Times, Hitler kept Hotter's records in his private collection. When Hotter was interrogated about this, he answered that the Pope had some of them too.
Hotter retired from the stage in 1972, but made occasional appearances in small roles thereafter. He was a notable narrator in Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, a role he continued to take well into his eighties.
Notes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotter
notes from Wikipedia
Clemens Heinrich Krauss (March 31, 1893 – May 16, 1954) was an Austrian conductor and opera impresario, particularly associated with the music of Richard Strauss.
Krauss was born in Vienna, the out-of-wedlock child of Clementine Krauss, then a 15-year-old dancer in the Vienna Imperial Opera Ballet, later a leading actress and operetta singer, who was a niece of the prominent nineteenth-century operatic soprano, Gabrielle Krauss (1842-1904). His natural father, the chevalier Hector Baltazzi (1851-1916), belonged to a family of wealthy Phanariot bankers resident in Vienna. Baltazzi's older sister Helene was married to baron Albin Vetsera and was the mother of Marie Vetsera, who was thus Clemens Krauss' first cousin.
As a boy, Krauss was a chorister in the Hofkapelle (Imperial Choir). He attended the Vienna Conservatory, graduating in 1912. He studied composition with Hermann Graedener and theory with Richard Heuberger. After graduation he was chorus master in the Brno Theater (1912-1913). There he made his conducting debut in 1913. The famous Romanian soprano Viorica Ursuleac, with whom he often performed, was his second wife.
Krauss made the rounds of regional centers, conducting in Riga (1913-1914), Nürnberg (1915), and Szczecin (1916-1921), known then as Stettin. The latter appointment gave him ample opportunity to travel to Berlin to hear Arthur Nikisch conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, a major influence. Krauss's next post was back in Austria, where he became director of the opera and symphony concerts in Graz. In 1922 he joined the conducting staff of the Vienna State Opera and teacher of the conducting class at the State Academy of Germany. In 1923 he became conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Concerts until 1927, and Intendant of the opera in Frankfurt am Main and director of the Museum Concerts in 1924, until 1929.
Krauss visited the United States in 1929, conducting in Philadelphia and with the New York Philharmonic. Also in 1929 he became director of the Vienna State Opera. Its orchestra, in its independent concert form as the Vienna Philharmonic, appointed him its music director in 1930. He was a regular conductor at the Salzburg Festival from 1926 to 1934. In 1930 he conducted Alban Berg's Wozzeck.
In 1933 and 1934 Krauss gave up his Vienna positions, becoming director of the Berlin State Opera in 1935 after Erich Kleiber resigned in protest over Nazi rule. In 1933 he took over the preparations for the premieres of Strauss' Arabella when the conductor Fritz Busch (another non-Jewish anti-Nazi) left. Krauss' own position on Nazism was unclear although he enjoyed a close relationship with Nazi official Alfred Frauenfeld and it has been claimed that he sought Nazi Party membership in 1933. In 1937 he was appointed Intendant of the Nationaltheater München, following the resignation there of Hans Knappertsbusch. He became a close friend of Richard Strauss, for whom he wrote the libretto to the opera Capriccio which he premiered in Munich in 1942. Also, he conducted the premieres of Strauss's operas Friedenstag and Die Liebe der Danae.
After the Munich opera house was bombed, shutting it down, Krauss returned to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic until it closed shortly before the end of the War (1944-1945). After the War, Allied officials investigated his pro-Nazi activities and because of them forbade him from appearing in public until 1947. They also found that he had frequently acted to assist a number of individual Jews escape the Third Reich machine. When his ban was lifted he resumed frequently conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, including its famous New Year's Day concerts.
Following Krauss's rehabilitation he conducted at Covent Garden in London from 1951 and the Bayreuth Festival in 1953 . He died during a visit to Mexico City, and is now buried along with his wife, who died in 1985, in Ehrwald, Austria.
He did not make many recordings; but his 1950 performance of Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, made in Vienna, is still regarded by some as the best one. His 1953 live performance of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle from Bayreuth is highly regarded. A performance with the Vienna Symphony of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, reissued on more than one inexpensive label since its original appearance on Vox Records, is also one of the few recordings featuring pianist Friedrich Wührer available on compact disc.
Notes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clemens_Krauss