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General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Bill H.
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:00 pm

New/Revised Uploads Available

Post by Bill H. » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:04 pm

See the message immediately below, and the followup replies.

Completely Revised postings:'53 Krauss Ring; '54 Jochum Lohengrin; '51 Knappertsbusch Parsifal; '56 Studio Kempe Meistersinger

Folks: If you have downloaded previous versions of these recordings (see the thread "An Offer You Can't Refuse"), I've completely rethought them and have recently posted revised versions which you are welcome to download to replace the previous ones, should you desire. I expect these will be my final tweaks to these recordings, so you won't be bothered about these in future. Happy Wagner Bicentennial!

Among the differences:

1) Sought an overall warmer sound, with less shrillness. To some extent, this can subtly affect the voice/orchestra balance, though in the case of the Krauss Ring the balance still favors the former to the occasional near-inaudibility of the Bayreuth orchestra. (But what singing!)
2) Completely removed any previous added noise reduction, and of course there is no added "reverb". The tape hiss that remains is not objectionable, and in the case of the Krauss Ring some of the (admittedly could be distracting) stage machinery used during Rheingold (Scene 3) and the final pages of Götterdämmerung are more audible.
3) Changed the CD splits in both the Krauss Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. To minimize interruptions across Acts, in both operas Act I is split among two shorter CDs, while Acts II and III are now complete on single (longer) CDs.
4) The opening bars of the Krauss Siegfried have been restored from the actual performance--thanks to Brian Reasoner for providing access to the opening track of the Orfeo Krauss Ring release for this purpose.

If you are not familiar with the Lohengrin in particular, give it a listen. I feel it is a more exciting performance than the more famous one from the previous year's Bayreuth Festival.

All links are now in new megafolders, containing both the long mp3 versions (one file per Act) and the CD versions, so that you can download both types from a single location if desired.

Knappertsbusch 1951 Bayreuth Parsifal: ... JvdlU/edit

Krauss 1953 Bayreuth Ring Cycle: ... 3NzMx/edit

Jochum 1954 Bayreuth Lohengrin: ... 0YjFi/edit

Kempe 1956 Berlin Meistersinger: ... NGWUU/edit

Bill H.
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:00 pm

The 1953 Furtwaengler/RAI Ring Cycle

Post by Bill H. » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:07 pm

A Remix of the Furtwängler Ring Cycle, recorded in Rome in 1953.
If you haven't heard this performance before, this is a good opportunity to try it out.

As a Wagner bicentennial commemorative gift, links for my remix of this recording are now available to download. But first, some words of explanation--

I never intended to "do" this particular recording, since it is already so widely available. The source material was a download I purchased from a well-known online music site to listen from my computer. But while the sound quality seemed similar to the standard EMI release, this particular transfer had been incompetently made--many of the transitions between the hundreds of tracks (which appear to be the same as the EMI track splits) suffered from very loud "clicks" that both disfigured the sound and could possibly trigger damaging clipping to loudspeakers if played at loud levels. My attempts to get a refund were unsuccessful, but the site has apparently acknowledged the problem by taking down the release so it's no longer available there.

To make the download personally usable, I manually removed these noises as much as I could--on occasion it's possible to hear remnants of the clicks, but overall they are mostly inaudible. I've experimented over the course of the past year with many remixes of the audio equalization and ambience to something I thought reasonable, with helpful comments from some folks I trust in these matters. As in my other recent releases, I've added NO noise reduction or "reverb". While also trying to reverse some of the more drastic gain riding, at the same time I am NOT able to fix other defects, such as overload distortion, cyclic pitch changes (referred to in audiophile parlance as "wow") or rapid subtle changes in audio quality, as is heard at the beginning of Act II of Götterdämmerung. The re-equalization attempted to cut some harsher midrange frequencies to reduce shrillness, while trying to keep both higher and lower frequencies that are nearly cut off because of the quality of the source material. The remix has been "auditioned" via headphones, a car-based Bose sound system, and through KEF reference speakers.

I don't know whether the download's source material was in fact an LP transfer, though I've read elsewhere that it might--but the original RAI archival materials were supposedly derived from metal disks. Having heard excerpts from the recent EMI Japan remastering of this Ring, many of the audio defects heard here are in fact present in that release, though with professional restoration they are much reduced--overall the EMI Japan sound is hissier, but with greater depth in the bass than I could pull from this remix. Still, I would gauge that the most state-of-the-art audio of this cycle that is readily available is from Pristine Audio. Hence, this remix might be thought of as an "evaluation" copy, especially for those of you not familiar with the Furtwängler RAI Ring, to audition before deciding whether you like the performance enough to purchase a professionally-done version.

The audio is available in mp3 files, either in long form (one file per Act), or as folders of tracks that can be written to a total of 13 audio CDs. I think that the commercial releases split this epic Ring into too many short tracks, so I have done my track splits to more or less follow those on the Krauss Ring. However, the often longer timings of the Furtwängler are such that in some cases (e.g.Siegfried) it is impossible to do the same disk splits as the Krauss; hence I sometimes follow the EMI splits, and sometimes do different ones. I've retained the applause that is heard at the end of each Act or opera--I know in certain cases it sounds "canned"; but in others (e.g. Götterdämmerung) it sounds more a genuine part of the performance. In any case, to try snipping the applause can sometimes cause an unnatural sounding end to the music, so I've left it as is.

The link takes you to a megafolder, with all of the zipped long file or CD versions of each opera, along with the cast lists as separate text files. Feel free to try any or all of them. ... hyLW8/edit

The Sound of the 1953 Rings--Krauss vs. Furtwängler
Individual preferences for casts or conductors aside, the Krauss cycle sounds more "hi-fi", with a wider frequency response and more "presence" than the Furtwängler. However, the significant advantage in listening to the latter cycle is that it has a more balanced sound between voices and orchestra, and is MUCH more consistent in that regard, unlike the sometimes frustratingly muffled sound of the Bayreuth orchestra. Furtwängler's singers are not as much "in your face" as the Krauss, and also don't go "off-mike" as much, unless as a deliberate part of the 'staging'. If the sound palette of Wagner's orchestra is all-important to you, I believe that one can hear more instrumental details in the RAI performances (especially the woodwinds and low brass), despite the reduced frequency response. In addition, this results in what I believe is a wider dynamic range in the Furtwängler recording.

Thanks to several who contributed comments on previous draft remixes, and to Brian Reasoner for letting me listen to the EMI Japan remastering. Of course, it's ultimately a matter of your personal taste as to whether these files are 'listenable' for you.
Thanks for reading,
Bill H.
Bill H.
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:00 pm

The 1952 Karajan Bayreuth "Tristan und Isolde"

Post by Bill H. » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:09 pm

Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde

Ramon Vinay (Tristan)
Martha Mödl (Isolde)
Ludwig Weber (König Marke)
Hans Hotter (Kurwenal)
Ira Malaniuk (Brangäne)
Herman Uhde (Melot)

Bayreuther Festpiele Orchestra and Chorus
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Live performance, July 23,1952

Happy New Year - and Wagner Bicentennial! Both long version (one mp3 file per Act) and zipped folders with tracks for three audio CDs are at this link: ... hTS0U/edit

Wwhile this performance has been readily available from other sources, my impression has been that most transfers suffered from an overwhelmingly bass-heavy sound, with a rather dull top. I've tried to clear some of the muddiness in the bass, as well as make the higher frequencies a little brighter. Other than some occasional grittiness in the sound of the upper strings, I'm reasonably happy with how this turned out. No artificial "reverb" or noise reduction has been applied, though as usual along with the equalization I did make the monophonic ambience a little less boxy.

The source material also had a CD "fade" near the end of Act I which I removed. The CD version has the Act I split in a different spot, during the famous chord progression--while not ideal, it avoids the fade in/out and helps compel the listener to listen to the 2nd disk!

As always, any comments/suggestions welcome. And please download for personal use only--if you know of others who might be interested, please refer them to me via email.

The Wagnerian
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Joined: Sun May 29, 2011 9:11 pm

Re: New/Revised Uploads Available

Post by The Wagnerian » Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:08 am

Thank you. That is very kind. I will check out when I can. And happy New Year!
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:51 pm

Re: New/Revised Uploads Available

Post by parzival » Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:10 pm

Thank you so much for making this available!
best wishes,
Site Admin
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Re: New/Revised Uploads Available

Post by alberich00 » Thu May 23, 2013 1:21 pm

Dear Bill:

We can never thank you enough for your heroic efforts to make historic Wagner recordings available in the most listenable versions possible. Keep up the good work. As soon as I'm able, I'm going to take off a few days just to absorb some of your offerings complete. It's been a long, long time since I've had that luxury.

Of course, the greatest experience of my entire life was my first complete listen-through to the 1953 RAI Furtwaengler "Ring" on Seraphim, at the age of 18. My nervous system has never yet settled down after that glorious 24 hours 42 or so years ago. It made me, as I've said elsewhere, more or less permanently unemployable, and also, judging from my personal record since then, unmarriageable, ho ho. But there's always hope in that department. It's not an absolute requirement, but preferable, that she be a near-maniacal Wagnerienne, which means, in a sense, beyond the pale of civilization, and ready for anything, yet refined like the graces, and devilishly subtle. Well, you know what I mean! I've been prompted to this letting-myself-go through deep reflection all night on the significance of Wagner's 200th birthday.
Bill H.
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:00 pm

Re: New/Revised Uploads Available

Post by Bill H. » Thu May 30, 2013 3:35 pm


Thanks for your kind words.

As it turns out, I have recently procured my own copy of the original 1970s Seraphim Furtwängler 1953 Ring on LPs. It appears to be in passingly decent condition. I have also procured new audio editing software, which anyone who is my Facebook friend knows I've been playing with while transcribing other LPs I have inherited over the years.

So my summer project will be to digitize the Seraphim LPs of the Furtwängler set, which the majority opinions I have read indicate has audibly superior sound to the regular EMI set on CD that has been issued a couple of times over the years, and which is often available online for about US$50 or so. These LPs are probably not as good as the recent, totally remastered version done by EMI-Japan, but that appears only available in a very expensive SACD release.

When I have done the transfer and the track splits, I'll post a new link here. In the meantime, the previous edit of the Furtwängler Ring is still up at the link, but even now I would only give limited recommendation for it.
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