Der Ring des Nibelungen discography

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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:

Conductor Orchestra Year Label Stereo/Mono Live/Studio
Rudolf Moralt Vienna Symphony Orchestra 1949 Myto Mono Studio
(radio broadcast)
Wilhelm Furtwängler Teatro alla Scala Orchestra 1950 Music & Arts, Opera D'Oro,
Gebhardt, Archipel
Mono Live
Wilhelm Furtwängler Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro della RAI 1953 EMI Classics, Gebhardt Mono Studio
(radio broadcast)
Clemens Krauss Bayreuth Festival Orchestra 1953 Gala, Archipel,
Opera D'Oro, Orfeo
Mono Live
Joseph Keilberth Bayreuth Festival Orchestra 1952–1953,
Testament Stereo
(1955 only)
Hans Knappertsbusch Bayreuth Festival Orchestra 1956–1958 Music & Arts,
Melodram, Orfeo
Mono Live
Rudolf Kempe Royal Opera House Orchestra 1957 Testament Mono Live
Georg Solti Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra 1958–1965 Decca Records,
Stereo Studio
Herbert von Karajan Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 1966–1970 Deutsche Grammophon,
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 RAI 1968 Myto Stereo Studio
(radio broadcast)
Reginald Goodall English National Opera Orchestra 1974–1978 EMI Classics,
Stereo Live
(sung in English)
Pierre Boulez Bayreuth Festival Orchestra 1979–1980 Philips,
Deutsche Grammophon,
Stereo Live
Marek Janowski Staatskapelle Dresden Orchestra 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 Orchestra 1989 EMI Classics Stereo Live
Daniel Barenboim Bayreuth Festival Orchestra 1991–1992 Warner Classics Stereo Live
Günter Neuhold Badische Staatskapelle Orchestra 1993–1995 Brilliant Classics,
Bella Musica, Documents
Stereo Live
Gustav Kuhn Tyrol Festival Orchestra 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
Simone Young Philharmoniker Hamburg 2008–2010 Oehms Classics Stereo Live
Sebastian Weigle Frankfurt Opera Orchestra 2010–2012 Oehms Classics Stereo Live
Marek Janowski Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra 2012–2013 PENTATONE
(PTC 5186581)
Multichannel Stereo Live concert

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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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:

The Boulez, Barenboim, Zagrosek, and Haenchen performances are also available as audio recordings.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BBC Radio (2004). "The Greatest Recordings as Voted by CD Review Listeners". BBC. Retrieved 28 October 2007. 
  2. ^ "Recommended Recordings". Gramophone. 2007. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2007. 
  3. ^ BBC (2007). "CD Review's Building a Library". BBC. Retrieved 22 December 2007.