Some have likened Herbert von Karajan's "chamber-music approach" to Wagner's Ring cycle in terms of his scaling down or deconstructing the heroic roles. This approach has less to do with dynamics per se than it does with von Karajan's masterful balancing of voices and instruments. He achieves revelations of horizontal clarity, allowing no contrapuntal strand to emerge with an unwanted accent or a miscalibrated dynamic.
Karajan’s Deutsche Grammophon complete recordings is recorded on chronological order. From the “Magic Flute” overture of the 1938 recording used as first recording to the recording of the last in 1989, and the Symphony No.7 of Bruckner. There is no selling separately. It becomes ordering limited production.
Bruno Walter's recording of the Siegfried Idyll with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra is radiantly beautiful one of the most affecting of all this great conductor's statements. The horns wobble and nick a couple of notes, the ensemble isn't always perfect, and little things happen in the winds, but the sense of what the music is about the character of the solo playing, the phrasing, and the wonderful feeling of delicacy and joy is unmatched by anyone, except perhaps Karajan.
On the surface, this Ring cycle recording might seem like a poor relation to those by Sir Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan, James Levine, and others, or to the live recordings from the 1950s by the likes of Wilhelm Furtwängler, Clemens Kraus, and Hans Knappertsbusch. The very names constitute big guns in opera, and their respective casts are not exactly weak either. Complicating matters further is the fact that Marek Janowski's Ring was originally released by Eurodisc/Ariola, a European-based label that, while huge over there, never had the profile or prestige of Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, orEMI; the fact that it's now on RCA/BMG doesn't exactly help, either, as the latter has lost a good deal of its luster as a major label since the 1980s. But the Janowski Ring also occupies its own place in history…
Volume 2 of EMI's comprehensive Herbert von Karajan centenary edition gathers virtually all of the conductor's operatic and vocal output for the label in one place, taking up 71 CDs (Disc 72 contains complete librettos in the form of PDF files). I use the word "virtually" because the package omits four posthumously issued archival items taped live during the 1957-60 Salzburg Festivals (Beethoven's Missa solemnis, Brahms' German Requiem, Bruckner's Te Deum, and Verdi's Requiem). Otherwise, it's all here.
Along with Furtwangler's Scala Ring, this is my favorite one. And since the sound is better, this one is easier to listen to. Krauss'"Siegfried" is my favorite. I will never understand why so many people consider Solti's Ring as benchmark. To me his is the least exciting. Karajan is too "precious." The characters never come alive in either of those, at least not like they do for Krauss and Furtwangler.
Richard Wagner is best known for creating several complex operas, including Tristan and Isolde and Ring Cycle, as well as for his anti-semitic writings. 43 CD set on Membran International Documents: Der Fliegende Hollander (Krauss–1944); Tannhauser (Heger–1951); Lohengrin (Keilberth–1953); Das Rheingold (Neuhold–1993); Die Walküre (Neuhold–1994); Siegfried (Neuhold–1994); Götterdämmerung (Neuhold –1995); Rienzi (Zillig–1950); Parsifal (Knappertsbusch–1951); Die Feen (Ötvös–1998); Meistersinger (Karajan–1951); Das Liebesverbot (Heger–1963); Tristan & Isolde (Furtwängler–1952). Included is a 24 page booklet with cast lists, plot summaries, and background notes.