OP2875. DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN, (The ‘Dream’ RING, a composite Live Performance from the 1930s), w.Furtwängler, Bodanzky & Leinsdorf Cond. (partially) Met Opera Ensemble; Flagstad, Melchior, Schorr, Lehmann, Branzell, List, Thorborg, Habich, Laufkötter, Janssen, Hilde Konetzni, Weber, [and now offers Ludwig Weber as Hagen replacing Denzo Ernster], etc.). (Canada) 12-Immortal Performances IPCD 1026/29, an entirely new creation in a handsome, Boxed Edition (including extensive booklet texts about the composer, singers, the performance, the work, together with biographies, detailed recording notes as well as photographs of the singers in their rôles). Restoration, re-creation & transfers by Richard Caniell. Despite Caniell’s ever-popular ‘Dream RING’ previously issued on Guild eleven years ago, this entirely new presentation is from Caniell’s recent diligent work during the past year in using state-of-the-art equipment, combined with his critical, discerning ear. - 696859207686, 696859207693, 696859207709, 696859207716
"So here it is, the 'Dream RING' in a shiny new re-master and restoration . . . a dream that is, vocally at least, a RING to die for . . . Make no mistake, this whole enterprise is a significant achievement in recorded history . . . Issues like the Immortal Performances RING give hope for all. Richard Caniell’s super-project is an astonishing achievement and one that deserves to be roundly applauded. Building on previous releases, and presented with trademark documentation (i.e., lots of it), this is thought-provoking, stimulating, and a reminder of Wagner’s achievement as much as Caniell’s.”
- Colin Clarke, FANFARE, Nov./Dec., 2013
“Richard Caniell, the proprietor of Immortal Performances and producer of these discs, has done this with the RING before, when he worked with Guild Records. He now works exclusively for his own label, and he has redone the ‘Dream Ring’, making considerable improvements along the way. The sound quality is both more vivid and more consistent here than it was on Guild. He has realized what many of us have dreamed about—if only we could create the ideal performance by combining recordings with different singers into a magnificent whole.
If you are a purist who cannot tolerate the idea of this kind of wizardry in concocting performances, then you should not read further, because this set will hold no interest for you (except for SIEGFRIED, which is the one opera that is a whole performance without changes). It is important to point out that performances with these casts actually did occur, but they were not broadcast, and thus not preserved as they happened. If the idea doesn’t repel you, then the issue you will want addressed is how well it is done, and the answer is that it is done very well indeed. GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG probably has the most dramatic number of changes. Caniell summarizes them in the accompanying booklet in a very general way, but doesn’t give edit-by-edit details. The archivist part of me wishes he would, but the listener in me understands why he doesn’t. When I asked him about it, Caniell responded that he doesn’t provide the laundry list because he doesn’t wish to ‘dispel or violate the magic of what Gestalt there is in communicating an actual ongoing performance’. I understand, and I think I agree with him. If we had a detailed index of where changes occurred, we would be focusing on that, listening to see if we could detect the change—and the whole purpose of what he has done, which is to attempt to create what sounds like a unified, effective, and great performance, would be contradicted.
What you get here are four individual recordings of the operas that represent greater Wagner singing than is heard on any other recording, and sound restoration that is as good as is possible today. And all of the conducting is very fine, even if Bodanzky, Furtwängler, and Leinsdorf are three quite different musicians.
The Immolation Scene used here is from Covent Garden 1937, surely the finest of the five recorded versions with Flagstad and Furtwängler. Her voice peals out with authority and ease, soaring through Wagner’s long line. The scene brings to a close this remarkable achievement—a RING cycle for the ages, with the greatest Wagnerian voices of the 20th century brought together in front of the microphones in a way that may never have happened in the real world of broadcasts and recordings, but surely did in the ears of those lucky enough to have heard them together in the house in unrecorded performances, and in the dreams of all who love this music. Caniell has made considerable improvements over his Guild ‘Dream Ring’ set, in terms of cleaning up the sound, making it more consistent, and improving some of the edits.
What he has done is to bring to life something almost all of us have done in our minds’ ears. And he has done it with astonishing skill.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, Nov./Dec., 2013