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…
Farnace was apparently one of Vivaldi's favorite operas because he mounted numerous productions in various cities and wrote six versions of the score, more than of any of his other operas. The conventions of operatic vocal characterizations that came to be standard higher voices in the sympathetic roles and lower voices in villainous roles had not yet been established, and Farnace features a baritone and contralto in the heroic roles, with a soprano as the villain.
'Les Six' (so named in 1920 by critic Henri Collet) hit the classical music scene with almost the same outrageous force with which the punk movement slammed into popular music in the 1970s and early '80s. It consisted of a group of six composers working in France: Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Germaine Tailleferre and Louis Durey. Their music was largely a reaction against Impressionism and Wagnerism and incorporated the ideas of Satie and Cocteau with the popular styles of the time: French vaudeville, American jazz and café music.
Créé en 1995 par Jean-Christophe Frisch, premièrement sous le nom de XVIII-21 Musique des Lumières, XVIII-21 Le Baroque Nomade est un ensemble français ayant participé à un renouvellement de l’interprétation de la musique baroque, en s’appuyant sur les découvertes musicologiques les plus récentes. L’ensemble a notamment développé le concept de baroque nomade, travaillant sur les rencontres historiquement avérées entre musiques baroques européennes et musiques extra-européennes.
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.