HONG KONG PHILHARMONIC
“Van Zweden’s thrillingly vivid concert recording.
A first rate cast.”
– The Guardian on Die Walküre
Naxos is proud to present Wagner’s complete Ring
Cycle, directed by Jaap van Zweden who was joined
three outstanding choruses. This four-year journey
has been a huge success with audience and critics
alike. Comprising four separate operas, Der Ring
des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is one of
the supreme works in the history of music. Join us in
this thrilling and breath-taking musical spectacle with Jaap van Zweden and his cast of top Wagnerian
singers along with a gargantuan orchestra!
Photos of the concert performances.
There is also additional information about a special Ring
mini-site, which will be updated with extra content as they become available.
"I’m especially proud of the [Hong Kong Philharmonic] Orchestra after these last four years. It was a long road, but a wonderful road. And I think the orchestra got better and better, playing this music, especially by not only learning their own parts, but learning the parts around them – what’s going on in the orchestra. ...I really strongly believe that every orchestra has its own group soul, and also its own sound, its own signature. So I would say that, we enriched the [Hong Kong Phil's] sound, but at the same time, we kept our own signature of what the HK Phil is about. And that makes me really proud."
The Prologue Das Rheingold depicts the theft and subsequent surrender of the ring forged from the Rhinemaidens’ gold by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich. This release was selected as ‘Album of the Week’ by
The Sunday Times of London, which praised its ‘thrilling sense of drama’. It also won an Opera News
‘Critic’s Choice’ award.
“Matthias Goerne is a revelation … what’s remarkable is how consistently he sustains the beauty of his tone throughout this strenuous assignment – a triumph of bel canto singing.” – Opera News
“The quality of the orchestral playing is remarkable… The cast is uniformly strong, and the audio quality is superb.” – ClassicalCDReview.com
Part II of the tetralogy, Die Walküre, centres on the young lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde, whose relationship angers Fricka, goddess of marriage, and on the disobedience of the Valkyrie Brünnhilde who is sent to carry out Fricka’s wishes. Performed by an all-star international cast, the work features thrilling set-pieces such as Wotan’s Farewell and the Ride of the Valkyries.
This release was selected as ‘Album of the Week’ by The Sunday Times.
“Thrillingly vivid… easily maintains the high standard and promise of Das Rheingold.”
– The Guardian
“Stuart Skelton’s magnificent Siegmund is here preserved in excellent sound, the stream of golden tone pouring forth in this, a signature role. His attention to psychological detail and word painting is compelling, culminating in a moving Zauberfest. Heidi Melton’s Sieglinde matches him note for note, her ample, pearly soprano ringing out comfortably from top to bottom.” – Limelight Magazine
Siegfried, the third in the Ring cycle, contains some of the greatest moments in Wagner’s entire output. Wagner conceived Siegfried as a heroic ‘man of the future’, and his fantastical tale is one in which the human dramas of treachery and violent struggles for power become magnified in a world of gods, dragons and magic. This release became a BBC Music Magazine ‘Opera Choice’ winner.
“New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill is surely the Siegfried for our generation.”
– MusicWeb International
“Simon O’Neill’s steely, bright-toned heldentenor encompasses this killer part with
deceptive ease.” – BBC Music Magazine
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) is the epic fourth and final opera of Wagner’s great Ring cycle, with a plot that depicts the fall of heroes, gods, and the entire world. As ever with the Ring, the joys of love are all too fragile and fleeting, and the drama of Götterdämmerung revolves around dark and unsettling reversals of fortune and illusions of hope that synthesise thrilling and powerful grand opera traditions with Wagner’s revolutionary techniques. Containing all of the Ring’s essential elements, Götterdämmerung possesses a profoundly satisfying sense of inevitability that makes it both a towering climax and a unified summation of the Ring’s abundant variety.
“The star of the production was undoubtedly Gun-Brit Barkmin as Brünnhilde. She displayed an amazing range of emotional expression … her voice displayed tremendous agility and malleability.” – Bachtrack.com (concert review)Also available on Blu-ray audio (NBD0075A)
Wagner’s visionary Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) was first performed as a cycle of four operas in 1876. Its mythic plot examines the relationship between love and earthly power through the agency of a ring which confers ultimate power on its bearer. One of the most sustained and remarkable achievements in all music, the tetralogy is performed by an all-star cast, conducted by the new music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Jaap van Zweden, in performances that have been critically acclaimed worldwide for their ‘thrilling sense of drama’ (The Sunday Times, London).
“Van Zweden is a master of refinement and tonal balance. The Hong Kong Philharmonic plays with lush brilliance, beautiful portamentos in the strings, and exceptional transparency.” – American Record Guide
• Photos of the concert performances.
• There is also additional information about a special Ring mini-site, which will be updated with extra content as they become available.
Opera Explained – The Ring of the Nibelung
Written and read by Stephen Johnson
Wagner’s Ring cycle is the most ambitious work in the history of music: four operas that combine to tell a single epic story. Based in legend, it has become a legend in its own right: a supreme challenge for conductors, singers, opera producers, and indeed for audiences. But for all its grandeur and complexity, The Ring is far more accessible than many music lovers think. This 2-CD guide explains the basics of the plot, profiles the leading characters, and shows how Wagner’s revolutionary music adds fascinating layers of meaning and psychological insight, as well as providing some of the most stirring and intoxicating moments in the entire operatic repertoire.
Stephen Johnson has written regularly for The Independent and The Guardian, and was Chief Music Critic of The Scotsman (1998–9). He has also broadcast frequently for BBC Radios 3 and 4, and for the BBC World Service. He is the author of Bruckner Remembered (Faber, 1998) and a regular presenter for Radio 3’s Discovering Music. In 2003 Stephen was voted Amazon.com Classical Music Writer of the Year. He has written biographies of both Mahler and Wagner for Naxos Books.“It is splendid… [Stephen Johnson] has made a very user-friendly essay that will not only be of considerable use for Wagnerites, but also be a ready tool for generating interest and love for the great work amongst those who know little or nothing about it.” – Limelight Magazine ★★★★★
Featured in '20 best' Guardian Apps Blog
Acquaint yourself with the intricacies of this musical marvel with the companion Naxos Wagner Ring Cycle app for iPad, which explores the various ‘Leitmotifs’ that are interwoven throughout all four operas and provides a wealth of background material about the Cycle for a more informed and enjoyable listening experience.
The groundbreaking Wagner’s Ring Cycle iPad app is aimed at anyone with an interest in Wagner’s monumental operatic achievement Der Ring des Nibelungen (‘The Ring of the Nibelung’). Whether you are intimately acquainted with the cycle or a newcomer to it, you can enjoy a clearly and beautifully presented outline of the work’s so-called ‘leitmotifs’.
“An indispensible guide to understanding the stories, music and history of Wagner’s epic four-opera cycle.” – Sinfini Music ★★★★
- 130 audio clips: 65 different leitmotifs isolated from the operas
- Extended audio clips: eight tracks, two from each opera
- An explanation of each leitmotif example
- Each leitmotif example in musical notation
- Biographical text about Richard Wagner
- Clear synopses of the operas
- Information about the operas in performance
- Comments from renowned tenor, Simon O’Neill
- Further Reading