FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle (1950, La Scala) - PABX002

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FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle (1950, La Scala) - PABX002

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Overview

WAGNER Der Ring Des Nibelungen: 1. Das Rheingold
WAGNER Der Ring Des Nibelungen: 2. Die Walküre
WAGNER Der Ring Des Nibelungen: 3. Siegfried
WAGNER Der Ring Des Nibelungen: 4. Götterdämmerung

Recorded in 1950

Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler

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This set contains the following albums:

Click below to expand note:
FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 1. Das Rheingold (1950, La Scala) - PACO089

Furtwängler's 1950 Ring Cycle starts here - Part 1: Das Rheingold

XR remastering brings vivid depth and astonishing power to Wagner's epic operas


Ever since I began working on Furtwängler's other Ring cycle (RAI, 1953) I have received requests to follow it with this one, recorded live at La Scala in Milan in 1950. Thus what seems almost to have become something of an annual event begins again: Pristine's historic Ring for 2013, another "best ever" contender that's suffered from any number of dire-sounding releases in the past. With Richard Wagner's 200th birthday this year in mind, here's the start of this 32-bit XR remastered Ring.

Initial soundings last year suggested that this recording would respond well to the rigours of the various XR processes, as it has - indeed, better than I'd dared hope. Wagner really does need a full, rich and all-enveloping sound, and at last we're able to hear it in this performance. It's not entirely uniform - there are a handful of short sections where the quality drops slightly - but overall this offers a pretty amazing improvement in audio quality. I've also excised a lot of bumps, coughs and other noises to help provide as involving a musical experience, with as few distractions, as possible.

Your musical journey starts here...

Andrew Rose

FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 2. Die Walküre (1950, La Scala) - PACO091

Furtwängler's 1950 Ring Cycle Part 2: Die Walküre

"Furtwängler surpasses himself and almost everyone else in sheer incandescence" - Gramophone

"Pristine has done wonders for Furtwängler's La Scala Ring"
- Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise, 2013


Now, this is a miracle. I never thought to live to hear this. Yes, I bought back in the day—and still have—the Murray Hill LPs of these performances from circa 1977, which, when played, sounded as if they were coming from a phone left off the hook in La Scala’s lobby. I did recently invest in the Music & Arts Programs Of America CD set, and it was a big improvement over the LPs, but your Rheingold leaps way far ahead of it into a vivid realism that I’d never guessed was hiding in its former iterations. I’m counting the days until Die Walküre and beyond...

G.T., e-mailed response to hearing Furtwängler's Das Rheingold on Pristine PACO089

 

My major tasks here have included digging out not just some credible bass, but a fullness and richness of tone that comes as close as possible to reality whilst battling high levels of hiss and rumble, and thousands of bumps and thumps that I can only assume emenated from feet on the stage. Meanwhile, and with Rossini's witticism "Wagner has great moments but dull quarter hours" in mind, I came to the conclusion that perceived excitement levels in this performance were in inverse proportion to audience coughs. I've done what I can to reduce their appearance in the slower, quieter sections that some in the Italian audience may have found less than gripping. However, attempting complete eradication of audience noise would cause major musical damage, so some unwanted noises must inevitably remain. Although in places evidence remains of tape disintegration, as in Das Rheingold, but overall I hope and believe we have another "miracle" of "vivid realism" here in Die Walküre!

Andrew Rose

FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 3. Siegfried (1950, La Scala) - PACO092

Furtwängler's 1950 Ring Cycle Part 3: Siegfried

"Towering above all are the two complete cycles left in recorded form by Furtwängler" - Fanfare


After all the various issues of Furtwängler's 1950 La Scala Ring cycle over the years - elsewhere in his 1996 review quoted here Henry Fogel remarks: "when it was on the Everest and Murray Hill labels, it was unspeakably bad—including being at the wrong pitch" - the general opinion was that this was the better performance in much the worse sonic condition of the two recordings which exist of Furtwängler conducting the Ring.

Thus far the reaction to our XR-remastered issues of this Ring Cycle have been exceptionally positive - particularly from those who've followed those various releases through since those first almost-unlistenable LP issues.

When marking up the tracks for this release I used our previous issue of Furtängler's 1953 RAI Ring as a guide - and was repeatedly struck by just how much the better of the two the older recording sounded. By getting the pitching spot on (a clear 50Hz hum indicates the performance took place at A=446Hz) and trimming applause to a minimum, I've been able to fit each act onto a single disc, with the only cut being Furtwängler's own in Act 3. As in previous operas in the cycle, sound quality slips occasionally for a few seconds at a time - that aside it really does sound quite amazing.

Andrew Rose


FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 4. Götterdämmerung (1950, La Scala) - PACO093

Furtwängler's 1950 Ring Cycle Part 4: Götterdämmerung

"This is simply the greatest performance of the whole cycle I have ever heard" - Gramophone


As with the previous three operas in this Ring Cycle, Götterdämmerung has responded remarkably to the Pristine XR remastering treatment, with a sound that's full, rich, clear and bright. In this instance tape hiss is very slightly higher than in the other operas, though at a level the listener will soon cease to notice. I felt that any further noise reduction would prove too distructive to the wonderfully clear delivery of the soloists heard throughout the opera.

Unlike the others in this Ring there are no technical lapses, and sound quality is thus even throughout. Those listening to a FLAC download will appreciate no mid-scene gap in the first act - continuity can be reconstructed with the CDs, which do not fade out or in at this crucial join point.

Andrew Rose


Click below to expand track listing:
FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 1. Das Rheingold (1950, La Scala) - PACO089

WAGNER - Das Rheingold WWV 86A

Wotan Ferdinand Frantz
Donner Angel Mattiello
Froh Günther Treptow
Loge Joachim Sattler
Alberich Alois Pernerstorfer
Mime Peter Markwort
Fasolt Ludwig Weber
Fafner Albert Emmerich
Fricka Elisabeth Höngen
Freia Walburga Wegner
Erda Margret Weth-Falke
Woglinde Magda Gabory
Wellgunde Margherita Kenney
Floßhilde Sieglinde Wagner


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler

Live recording, March 4, 1950, Teatro alla Scala


FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 2. Die Walküre (1950, La Scala) - PACO091

WAGNER - Die Walküre WWV 86B

Siegmund Günther Treptow
Sieglinde Hilde Konetzni
Wotan Ferdinand Frantz
Brünnhilde Kirsten Flagstad
Hunding Ludwig Weber
Fricka Elisabeth Höngen
Gerhilde Walburga Wegner
Ortlinde Marie Cerhal
Waltraute Dagmar Schmedes
Schwertleite Polly Batic
Helmwige Ilona Steingruber
Siegrune Margherita Kenney
Grimgerde Sieglinde Wagner
Roßweiße Margret Weth-Falke


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler

Live recording, March 9, 1950, Teatro alla Scala


FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 3. Siegfried (1950, La Scala) - PACO092

WAGNER - Siegfried WWV 86C

Siegfried Set Svanholm
Mime Peter Markwort
Brünnhilde Kirsten Flagstad
Wanderer Josef Herrmann
Alberich Alois Pernerstorfer
Fafner Ludwig Weber
Erda Elisabeth Höngen
Waldvogel Julia Moor


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler

Live recording, March 22, 1950, Teatro alla Scala


FURTWÄNGLER Wagner Ring Cycle: 4. Götterdämmerung (1950, La Scala) - PACO093

WAGNER - Götterdämmerung WWV 86D

Brünnhilde Kirsten Flagstad
Siegfried Max Lorenz
Hagen Ludwig Weber
Alberich Alois Pernerstorfer
Gunther Josef Herrmann
Gutrune Hilde Konetzni
Waltraute Elisabeth Höngen
Woglinde Magda Gabory
Wellgunde Margherita Kenney
Floßhilde Sieglinde Wagner
1st Norne Margret Weth-Falke
2nd Norne Margherita Kenney
3rd Norne Hilde Konetzni


Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala di Milano
conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler

Live recording, April 4, 1950, Teatro alla Scala