The Nibelung dwarf Alberich is you know, just doing his thing, when he is distracted by three beautiful ladies. These are the Rhinemaidens, and they guard the gold at the bottom of the Rhine. First Alberich falls in love with them, then with the gold. Failing to get the maidens, he steals their gold, forever cursing love.
From the gold, Alberich creates a ring to rule the world (hmm… Tolkien got it from somewhere?). Of course that leads to much trouble. Irrevocably it leads to the end of the Valhalla and the fall of the gods. In a total of four operas Wagner tells his epic story.
Listening to this takes quite a while. But I saw the whole cycle in the Nationale Opera in Amsterdam, and I must say, it made me happy every minute. It was an exhilarating ride all the way. Then again, I really like opera. If you don’t, don’t start with these. This is heavy stuff.
I got this as a boxed set from someone that was always selling records on Queensway, because he used to work for the record company. This is a re-release of a recording from the sixties, but it was published in the eighties. However, this awesome recording still makes this one of the best around. For me there is only one recording, and that is Georg Solti.
I think I once saw a documentary about the creation of the recording. It was a recording that is an outstanding technological achievement. In those days, when an orchestra was recorded, it was done by a few microphones. The whole thing was captured in one go. Decca made this recording a little different: parts of the orchestra were recorded separately, so they could be mixed together later. For bands this is normal nowadays, but back then, and for classical music, this was unique.
It led to a recording of unprecedented quality. It is still breathtaking, even after all these years.