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To commemorate the 25th anniversary of legendary conductor Sir Georg Solti's death (5th September) Decca Classics is proud to announce a new remastered version of his famous 'Ring Cycle' (Der Ring des Nibelungen) composed by Richard Wagner. This has been made possible by a restoration project to preserve priceless analogue master tapes which have been stored in the vaults of Universal Music
since the recording sessions took place in the 1950s and 60s. The fragile tapes have been expertly processed to high-definition digital audio using cutting-edge audio technology. Where sections of tape have deteriorated, they have been baked in a specialized oven for ten hours at 55°c to restore their integrity.
Solti's Ring Cycle, has twice been voted "The greatest recording of all time"1, was recorded between 1958 and 1965 and includes four operas and lasts 15 hours. It was the first-time stereo recording had been used on a work of such scale. And it predates The Beatles' landmark Abbey Road album - the band's first exclusively stereo recording - by a decade.
Over the years this recording has sold over nine million copies and has soundtracked iconic cinematic moments, most famously the helicopter scene in Apocalypse Now.
These new high-definition transfers of the 38 original master tapes have been made at '24 bit/192kHz resolution', which allows greater detail and dynamic range than ever heard previously. The transfers have also allowed the original recording to be remastered for Dolby Atmos, the spatial audio technology which recreates a multi-dimensional sound true to the original producer John Culshaw's vision of a "theatre of the mind". It provides a completely new and immersive listening experience, transporting the listener back in time as if they were present at the original recording.
Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group, Tom Lewis and Laura
Monks, say, "this is the Citizen Kane of classical recording and this new version is mind-blowing, especially when you listen in surround sound. What makes it even more tantalising is the thought that the engineers were able to return to the original tapes just before they disintegrated beyond use. A final opportunity to return to an original masterpiece before losing it forever!"
The 6 harps used to create the shimmering rainbow bridge music in the final scene of Das Rheingold.
Recorded in Vienna, this recording has always been regarded as the perfect marriage of art and technology. One of the greatest casts of Wagnerian singers ever assembled (including Birgit
Nilsson, Hans Hotter and Kirsten Flagstad) for a recording was paired with a team pushing the boundaries of audio production. No expense was spared and at one point, inspired by Wagner's score, even a real-life horse was brought into the studio; seen but not actually heard!
Decca Classics Label Director
and Audio Producer of this reissue, Dominic Fyfe, explains, "back in 1966 producer John Culshaw expressed the hope that this Ring would set a benchmark for years to come. Half a century later it is still the artistic and technical gold standard. Culshaw was above all an iconoclast and a visionary who rejoiced in new technology. I have no doubt he would approve of our efforts to utilise Dolby Atmos and the latest suite of remastering tools to make this new HD transfer the most immersive and vivid yet."
The remastered Ring will be available in the most extensive suite ever of deluxe physical and digital products including:
- The first vinyl releases of the recording in 30 years. Half-speed mastered at Abbey Road Studios and pressed on 180g audiophile vinyl.
- The first international release of the recording on Hybrid SACDs, allowing listeners to hear the enhanced resolution of these new transfers and playable on all CD players
- The first and only complete Wagner Ring cycle available in Dolby Atmos
- The physical products will be accompanied by lavish booklets including facsimiles of the original conductor and producer scores, rare session photographs, newly discovered curios and full libretti.
- This new release commemorates the 25th anniversary of Sir Georg Solti's death (5th September).
- The four operas of 'The Ring' cycle will be released in installments between November 2022 and May 2023, with 'The Golden Ring', a selection of the greatest scenes from the cycle, released on 30 September
- Voted 'Greatest Recording': Gramophone Magazine 1999 & BBC Music