Sony Classical. RCA Red Seal. Eurodisc. Sony Music.
I first came across this 40 CD box set last year and after dipping my toe into it for a while I finally decided to give it a proper hearing over the last few weeks.
Large box sets can be a blessing or a curse depending on how much of the material you have already got in your collection but this box offers delights across the years from Kirsten Flagstad to Deborah Voigt and more besides.
The complete operas include Levine with James Morris singing Flying Dutchman, Leinsdorf conducting Lohengrin together with Keilberth's 1963 Mastersinger with Hotter and a young Claire Watson singing Eva and Otto Wiener singing Sachs.
The complete Ring cycle takes up a third of the box with Theo Adam singing Wotan together with Jessye Norman as Sieglinde and Jeannine Altmeyer singing Brunnhilde with Janowski conducting the Dresden Staatskapelle in his early 1980s recording.
Karajan features with his 1961 radio recording from Vienna of Parsifal with Hotter and Ludwig amongst the very strong cast and a plethora of orchestral discs from Maazel, Szell, Stokowski and Bernstein with Eileen Farrell singing excerpts including the Immolation Scene with Bernstein extracting every drop of drama out of the music. Of course no set would be complete without Flagstad and she is represented her in recordings from the USA in the 1930s.
In case you think there is a catch to this abundance of riches, the final clincher is the price of just over a dollar a disc if you shop wisely!
Maybe these are not your all time favourite recordings if you are a Wagner fan but as an introduction to his music you can't go wrong and with so many great singers and many more which I will leave you to discover for yourself – you really can't go wrong as an introduction to his music.