This has long been my favorite modern Ring cycle. The other competitors (on CD) have various flaws in cast, concept, or performance. However, this one is as close to perfect as one could expect in today's age. Janowski is all business, and the Dresden Staatskapelle responds well. One must remember, after all, that this is the band that produced Von Karajan's Meistersinger. I find that Janowski - even more so than Boulez - worries more about the score than anything else. There is no meta-concept. Dry? Most assuredly. Well-done? Absolutely.
Also, this cycle boasts a really first-rate cast. I tend to focus in on Peter Schreier's contribution as Loge (in Das Rheingold) and Mime (in Siegfried), which - I consider - are among the finest readings of that part. Now, for sprechgesang, one should look elsewhere. Schreier, very clearly, does not fall in the tradition of Zednik or Neidlinger. However, Siegfried Jerusalem (for Levine's Rheingold) does not quite manage to capture the character of Loge as well as Schreier. I do not really consider Schreier a character tenor (unlike Cangelosi, who is...hopefully...going to continue his Mime and perhaps Loge). However, he manages to pull it off brilliantly.
However, the one miscast comes with Altmeyer as Brünnhilde. She does well as Sieglinde and Gutrune for Boulez. However, she lacks the steel necessary for the Valkyrie. Now, I am not one of those fellows who complains that Flagstad was the last decent Brünnhilde. Nilsson, Jones, and Behrens all do the part well. Altmeyer, to her credit, gets some of the youthful innocence of her part. However, she just doesn't have that je ne sais quoi that a soprano needs for this part.
I like the cycle. I just wanted to share and get another post up here.