Der Ring des Nibelungen discography
The four operas of Richard Wagner's cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen together take about 15 hours, which makes for several records, tapes, or CDs, and a lot of studio time. For this reason, many full Ring recordings are the result of "unofficial" recording of live performances, particularly from the Bayreuth Festival where new productions are often broadcast by German radio. Live recordings, especially those in monaural, may have very variable sound but often preserve the excitement of a performance better than a studio recording.
The following lists some well-known recordings of the complete Ring Cycle:
|Wilhelm Furtwängler||La Scala Opera Orchestra||1950||Music & Arts, Opera D'Oro, Gebhardt, Archipel||Mono||Live|
|Wilhelm Furtwängler||Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della Radio Italiana (RAI orchestra and chorus)||1953||EMI Classics, Gebhardt||Mono||Studio (for radio broadcast)|
|Clemens Krauss||Bayreuth Festival Orchestra||1953||Gala, Archipel, Opera D'Oro, Orfeo||Mono||Live|
|Joseph Keilberth||Bayreuth Festival Orchestra||1955||Testament||Stereo||Live|
|Hans Knappertsbusch||Bayreuth Festival Orchestra||1956, 1957, 1958 cycles||Music & Arts, Melodram, Orfeo||Mono||Live|
|Georg Solti||Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra||1958–1965||Decca Records/PolyGram||Stereo||Studio|
|Herbert von Karajan||Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra||1966–1970||Deutsche Grammophon/PolyGram||Stereo||Studio|
|Karl Böhm||Bayreuth Festival Orchestra||1966–1967||Philips||Stereo||Live|
|Hans Swarowsky||Grosses Symphonieorchester||1968||Denon Essentials||Stereo||Studio|
|Wolfgang Sawallisch||Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della Radio Italiana (RAI orchestra and chorus)||1968||Myto||Stereo||Studio (for radio broadcast)|
|Reginald Goodall||English National Opera Orchestra||1974–1978||EMI Classics, Chandos||Stereo||Live, sung in English|
|Pierre Boulez||Bayreuth Festival Orchestra (Jahrhundertring)||1979–1980||Philips||Stereo||Live|
|Marek Janowski||Staatskapelle Dresden||1980–1983||Eurodisc/BMG||Stereo||Studio|
|James Levine||Metropolitan Opera Orchestra||1987–1989||Deutsche Grammophon||Stereo||Studio|
|Bernard Haitink||Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra||1988–1991||EMI Classics||Stereo||Studio|
|Wolfgang Sawallisch||Bavarian State Opera||1989||EMI Classics||Stereo||Live|
|Daniel Barenboim||Bayreuth Festival Orchestra||1991–1992||Warner Classics||Stereo||Live|
|Günter Neuhold||Badische Staatskapelle||1993–1995||Brilliant Classics, Bella Musica, Documents||Stereo||Live|
|Gustav Kuhn||Orchester der Tiroler Festspiele||1998–2001||Arte Nova||Stereo||Live|
|Asher Fisch||Adelaide Symphony Orchestra||2006–2007||Melba Recordings||Multichannel Stereo||Live|
|Hartmut Haenchen||Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra||2005||Etcetera||Multichannel Stereo||Live|
|Christian Thielemann||Bayreuth Festival Orchestra||2008||BBC Opus Arte||Stereo||Live|
The recording conducted by Georg Solti was the first stereo studio recording of the complete cycle. In a poll on the BBC Radio 3's long-running radio programme CD Review, this set was voted as the greatest recording of the 20th century. Although Solti's was the first studio stereo recording, the cycle had previously been recorded live in stereo by Decca engineers at the Bayreuth Festival in 1955 under the baton of Joseph Keilberth. Although unavailable for over 50 years, this cycle was finally released in 2006 on CD and vinyl by Testament.
Gramophone, for example, lists the Solti recording as its recommendation on its website. However, when their long-time Wagner critic Alan Blyth reviewed recordings of the Ring for the feature "Building a Library" on the BBC's CD Review (then Stereo Review) in 1986, he favoured the Böhm and Furtwängler/RAI recordings. When John Deathridge carried out a follow-up review for the programme in 1992, he favoured parts of the Goodall, Haitink and Boulez cycles for individual operas and Levine overall.
Herbert von Karajan's recording has been for a long time controversial, because of its peculiar casting and conducting-style, which critics called "chamber-music conducting" because of its particular attention to musical beauty which allegedly hurts drama (listeners generally say it's just a subtler reading than Solti's, which means there's less epic but more psychological analysis).
The Ring Cycle is also available in a number of video or DVD presentations. These include:
- Pierre Boulez conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1980–1981. [Philips/Deutsche Grammophon]
- James Levine conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, 1990. [Deutsche Grammophon 073 043-9]
- Daniel Barenboim conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, 1991–1992 [Warner Classics]
- Lothar Zagrosek conducting the Staatsoper Stuttgart, 2004 [Tdk]
- Hartmut Haenchen conducting the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, 2006 [Opus Arte]
- Bertrand de Billy conducting the Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, 2006 [BBC Opus Arte]
- Michael Schønwandt conducting the Royal Danish Orchestra, 2006 [Decca 074 3264]
- Zubin Mehta conducting the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, 2007–2009 [C Major]
- James Levine conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, 2011. [Deutsche Grammophon 0440 073 4770 6]
The Boulez, Barenboim, Zagrosek, and Haenchen performances are also available as audio recordings.
- BBC Radio (2004). "The Greatest Recordings as Voted by CD Review Listeners". BBC. Retrieved 28 October 20078.
- Gramophone (2007). "Recommended Recordings". Gramophone. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007.
- BBC (2007). "CD Review's Building a Library". BBC. Retrieved 22 December 2007.