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 Search Beat > The Music Beat > Classical Music > Featured Composer > Richard Wagner > Recommended Collections


recommended recordings
Wagner: Overtures and Preludes / Barenboim, Chicago SO

Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
Ensemble: Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Wea/Atlantic/Teldec - #99595 / January 9, 1996

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Barenboim is an excellent Wagner conductor, and it's a pity his ongoing series of Wagner operas is often forced to make do with less than splendid voices. All the more reason, then, to enjoy this excellent disc of overtures and preludes, all of which are played to the hilt by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and recorded in sound of superb amplitude. There are many collections of this type available, many of them very fine, and even more of them very dull. Barenboim plays the music with the...Read more


  Wagner: Overtures & Preludes / Adrian Boult

Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Sir Adrian Boult
Ensemble: London Philharmonic Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, et al.
Emd/Emi Classics - #62539 / September 29, 1992

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More than any other composer, Wagner is misrepresented by so-called "bleeding chunks" torn out of the operas, but you might nonetheless want to sample extracts before committing yourself. Adrian Boult's two-disc collection of the best-known preludes and orchestral passages contains performances of great drama and passion.

Bruno Walter Conducts Wagner's Die Walkčre Act 1
Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Bruno Walter
Performer: Lotte Lehmann, Emanuel List, et al.
Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Grammofono 2000 (Ita) - #78724 / July 22, 1997

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The advent of electrical recording brought forth a flurry of Wagner on disc, culminating in this storied 1935 set, marking the first time a single act from a Wagnerian music drama was recorded complete. From the fiery orchestral Prelude to the radiant evocations of spring in the final scene, the Vienna Philharmonic is captured on their finest prewar form, abetted by Bruno Walter's incisive yet flexible baton. As Sieglinde, Lehmann's acute musicality and her attention to words and the emotion...Read more


Wagner: Die Walküre, Götterdämmerung - Excerpts /Furtwängler
Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler
Performer: Kirsten Flagstad, Frieda Leider, et al.
Ensemble: Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Music & Arts - #1035 / September 15, 1998

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These excerpts from 1937 performances at Covent Garden have long been available in one form or another, but never in such impactful sound. No, it's not stereo and it still sports odd balances and thin string sound. But the voices come through clearly and it doesn't take much mental adjustment to become absorbed by performances of overwhelming power and intensity. The Flagstad-Melchior combination was untouchable in Wagner, and Furtwängler was perhaps the greatest of all Wagner conductors....Read more


Wagner: Tannhäuser, Siegfried-Idyll, etc / Karajan, Norman
Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Performer: Jessye Norman
Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Uni/Deutsche Grammophon - #23613 / October 11, 1988

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Karajan's appearance with Jessye Norman and the Vienna Philharmonic at the 1987 Salzburg Festival produced one of the great Wagner discs of all time, capped by a seething, compelling, white hot realization of the "Liebestod." Karajan knew he had something here, and listening to the performance is likely to leave you weak in the knees. As the account unfolds, everybody's on the edge of their seat--Norman comes in just that way, not sure of what volume to give it, halting, momentarily unsteady;...Read more


Wagner: Die Walkure, Act 1 (Live Performance) / Barenboim, Domingo, et al

Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
Performer: Placido Domingo, Deborah Polaski, et al.
Wea/Atlantic/Teldec - #23294 / December 8, 1998

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The action of Wagner's Ring cycle begins, as singer-comedienne Anna Russell so wryly put it, in the Rhine River--"that's right, in it." But newcomers who'd like to venture beyond the standard dose of orchestral excerpts may well find that the opening act of Die Walküre (the second of the cycle's four operas) offers the most immediately appealing point of access into the world of the Ring. This is, after all, the point where the cycle's first merely human characters take the stage. The...Read more



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