Page 1 of 1

An Offer You Can't Refuse

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:25 am
by A.C. Douglas

Re: An Offer You Can't Refuse

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:48 pm
by alberich00
Dear A.C.:

This sounds fantastic. I probably heard excerpts from this recording at some point in the past, but can't remember for sure. In any case, I've contacted Dr. Denis Donovan, an old friend and member of this discussion forum who has the capacity to burn cd's, to let him know about the offer. The only "Ring" cd's in my possession are the two Furtwaengler recordings (RAI and La Scala), and the Solti set which, to my dismay, was mostly ruined long ago by virtue of the decomposition of a strange synthetic buffer originally placed in the cd's by EMI or whoever to cushion the cd's. These buffers decomposed and left a film on the cd's which seems to be ineradicable. What were the fools who designed these alleged cd protectors thinking?????

Your friend from Wagnerheim,


Re: An Offer You Can't Refuse

Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:46 am
by feuerzauber
Here follows an edited transcript of discussions with Willam Hong regarding his remarkable remastering of celebrated 50+ year-old Wagner recordings.

I read with delight A. C. Douglas's ( enthusiastic praise of your remastered Bayreuth 1953 Ring under Clemens Krauss. Please let me know what format options you are offering it in.

William Hong
The recordings are available in the following formats:
  • long mp3 files (one per Act)   
    CD length folders, with individual tracks.
Are you familiar with the procedure to burn CDs using .cue files, or do you require individual mp3 files for each track of the discs?

I am not familiar with audio files in .cue format. However, I quickly found that this PC format is totally compatible with a Mac.

Here's how I burnt your .cue files to CD on a Mac using iTunes:
  • 1. I created a New iTunes "Album", e.g. Album "walkure_disc_1".
    2. I created a new Album Playlist, e.g. "walkure_disk_1", by dragging your walkure_disk_1 audio files into the Album.
    3. I burned the Playlist to CD as an audio disk with zero time-gap between tracks.
Here’s how I printed images on the CD faces using a CD-label application [DiscLabel] which manages the circular layout and the disk-to-printer alignment for printing on the disks.
  • 1. In the CD-label application, I chose a disk label template with placeholders for images and text.
    2. I typed the Title and Subtitle into text placeholders.
    3. I dragged a public domain image into the image placeholder – e.g. an Arthur Rackham Ring illustration.
    4. I copied the accompanying cast notes into another text placeholder. 
    5. When happy with the layout, I printed it by inkjet directly onto the printable CD that contained the audio .cue files.
William Hong
As always, comments on the sound quality are welcome.  Usual disclaimers apply – if you download, please use for personal purposes only, but feel free to refer others to my email address ( to obtain the links.

I have a question on copyright. For example, is the DECCA Knappertsbuch 1951 Parsifal copyright free?

William Hong
By current EU rules, the original copyright of recordings expires after 50 years.  New rules are coming into effect that will extend that to 70 years, but it is not retroactive to recordings already in the public domain, which this one is.

That's why, while there is a Teldec version of this Parsifal available on CD. Naxos has also issued their own release of it, and there may be others. 

I actually bought my source files from another European site, which doesn't specify where it originated.  In any case, my understanding is because I've reworked the equalization and put in my own track points (which may or may not differ from other releases), it's essentially a new release, were I to assert rights on it.  Since it is only for distribution among a small circle of listeners and anyone they want to refer to it, I don't plan on making this a commercial release of my own.  Hoping this answers your question?

William, I wonder if you are prepared to contribute to the wagnerheim discussion list a brief account of how you went about the remastering process – no trade secrets expected from you of course, but general technicalities are fine – as I'm certain others like myself will be truly fascinated by what you've done, as I thought what you've done was essentially impossible.

William Hong
I really cannot claim any audio engineering expertise.  I use very simple, consumer-based audio editing software for what I do, and the results are solely based on what my ears tell me, not any sophisticated analytics.  I certainly cannot do some of what professionals such as Andrew Rose at Pristine can do with this cycle, such as pitch/flutter correction and even snipping of some of the more egregious audience noises.

Krauss Ring – Bayreuth 1953

Code: Select all


Woglinde      Erika Zimmermann
Wellgunde     Hetty Plomacher
Flosshilde    Gisela Litz 
Alberich      Gustav Neidlinger
Wotan         Hans Hotter
Fricka        Ira Malaniuk
Freia         Bruni Falcon
Fasolt        Ludwig Weber
Fafner        Josef Greindl
Donner        Hermann Uhde
Froh          Gerhard Stolze
Loge          Erich Witte
Mime          Paul Kuen
Erda          Maria von Ilosvay


Siegmund      RamÛn Vinay
Sieglinde     Regina Resnik
Hunding       Josef Greindl
Wotan         Hans Hotter
Brunnhilde    Astrid Varnay
Fricka        Ira Malaniuk
Gerhilde      Brunnhild Friedland
Ortlinde      Bruni Falcon
Waltraute     Lise Sorrell
Schwertleite  Maria von Ilosvay
Helmwige      Liselotte Thomamoller
Siegrune      Gisela Litz
Grimgerde     Sibylla Plate
Rossweisse    Erika Schubert


Mime          Paul Kuen
Siegfried     Wolfgang Windgassen
Wanderer      Hans Hotter
Alberich      Gustav Neidlinger
Fafner        Josef Greindl
Erda          Maria von Ilosvay
Waldvogel     Rita Streich
Brunnhilde    Astrid Varnay


1. Norne      Maria von Ilosvay
2. Norne      Ira Malaniuk
3. Norne      Regina Resnik
Brunnhilde    Astrid Varnay
Siegfried     Wolfgang Windgassen
Hagen         Josef Greindl
Gunther       Hermann Uhde
Gutrune       Natalie Hinsch-Grundahl
Waltraute     Ira Malaniuk
Alberich      Gustav Neidlinger
Woglinde      Erika Zimmermann
Wellgunde     Hetty Plumacher
Floflhilde     Gisela Litz
I used as my source files a legal download in long file form that I purchased from a European site.  I did the basic remastering of the sound and then added the track splits [for access by a remote controller].

The [original] sound seems to be quite variable depending on what's done with it (and it's too bad that the Decca people never did this one), but I am always amazed by most all of those who participated in this set of performances.  

I did not use any of the Krauss Ring commercial releases that are out there now.  The download was of better sound quality than the Gala release that AC Douglas mentions, though I believe that I made a reasonable job of improving it.

Some of the other commercial ones I've heard are pretty dim sounding.  But there is also a recent release that is said to be a direct transfer from the master tapes by the Bavarian Radio.  At least one person I know of has heard my version compared to the master one and the differences, while there, do not appear to be offputting for either set. 

But as you know, how these things get remastered is a very subjective, almost philosophical matter on both the part of the person doing it and the listener.

I wanted to let you know that revised transfers of Rheingold and Walküre have been made--the sonic differences are not huge, but an attempt was made to remove some of the muddiness in textures, especially in Walküre.  Also adjusted were a couple of spots where it seemed the original recording engineers had twiddled the gain knobs a little too quickly and obviously.  

Let me know how you like it – I did some more radical re-equalization than I would have dared to try a few months ago.

New revised transfers for Siegfried and Götterdämmerung are now available. The attempt was made to clarify the textures in this reworking.  Of course, feel free to keep the versions you prefer, or all of them! 

Kempe Meistersinger – Berlin 1956

Code: Select all


Berliner Philharmoniker, Rudolf Kempe
Ferdinand Frantz (Hans Sachs)
Rudolf Schock (Walther von Stolzing)
Elisabeth Grümmer (Eva Pogner)
Benno Kusche (Sixtus Beckmesser) 
Gottlob Frick (Veit Pogner)
Gerhard Unger (David) 
Marga Höffgen (Magdalene) 
Gustav Neidlinger (Fritz Kothner) 
Hermann Prey (Nachtwächter)
The wonderful 1956 studio Meistersinger from Berlin conducted by Rudolf Kempe.  As a late mono recording it did not need much reworking, and hopefully you will find it reasonably listenable!

Knappertsbusch Parsifal – Bayreuth 1951

Code: Select all


Conductor       Hans Knappertsbusch
Amfortas        George London
Titurel         Arnold van Mill
Gurnemanz       Ludwig Weber
Parsifal        Wolfgang Windgassen
Klingsor        Hermann Uhde
Kundry          Martha Mödl
The famous 1951 Parsifal that opened postwar Bayreuth (Hans Knappertsbusch conducting). This was not a radio transcription but a Decca engineered recording that was issued soon after the performances, so it differs sonically somewhat from the Krauss Ring

Jochum Lohengrin – Bayreuth 1954

Code: Select all


Lohengrin - Wolfgang Windgassen
Elsa - Birgit Nilsson
König Heinrich - Theo Adam
Friedrich von Telramund - Hermann Uhde
Ortrud - Astrid Varnay
Heerrufer - Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Brabantische Edle - Gerhard Stolze, Gene Tobin, Toni Blankenheim, Franz Crass
This performance apparently documents the Bayreuth stage debut of Birgit Nilsson.  This was also the debut season at Bayreuth of Fischer-Dieskau.  

The recording invites an obvious comparison to the more famous performance of a year earlier, conducted by Joseph Keilberth--many of the principals are the same, with the main exception of Eleanor Steber as Elsa in 1953.  Here Fischer-Dieskau makes a memorable Herald, there's the very young Theo Adam (compared to Josef Greindl the previous year), and of course Uhde/Varnay are in their element especially in Act II.  Windgassen is his distinctive, reliable self.  Most of all, Jochum's conducting makes for a pretty energetic reading. 

The sound is "radio" quality.  The source material has changes in gain (volume), some variation in frequency range, and occasionally audible radio "hum", though not objectionably so. Overall, the original sound was rather thin, especially in the bass.  There are occasions where the famed Nilsson high notes overtax the original tapes.  But the overall balance favors the voices, at times more-so than the '53 recording, though the latter often has a warmer, more detailed sound thanks to the Decca/Telefunken engineering.  

To the extent possible, audibly noticeable drop-offs in this recording volume were compensated.  In the equalization, an attempt was made to restore the bass to some extent--the result is subjective and you should feel free to adjust your tone controls to taste.  

Re: An Offer You Can't Refuse

Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 8:14 am
by aidanpkelly
Opera Depot has a free download of excerpts from the Scala 1950 ring - sounds amazing to me but I have not heard the Pristine audio set. Comments welcome,

Re: An Offer You Can't Refuse

Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:22 pm
by Bill H.
I've not heard the La Scala 1950 Ring from Opera Depot, but the Pristine set is a near miraculous restoration. I bought the set, the mp3 version sounds just fine.