With a little bit of concentration...
George Grella, responding to my post expressing my distaste for Testament's integrale of the Keilberth Ring, makes a valid point,
I don't know that I necessarily disagree with that point, either.
With each of the separate recordings, I had the opportunity to spend many months listening to them, and they are tremendously listenable performances, really alive and musical and direct. They gave Wagner the chance to start to work his particular magic. Yes, like the other writer, I did pay more cash to buy them separately than to wait for the whole box, but the opportunity I’ve had to get to know the work has been worth the small premium.
I am not the sort of listener who hammers through a set at once. I am not implying that Mr. Grella is, either; in fact, I get the impression that he takes his time. With Wagner, especially in the Ring, you have to take it slowly. Miss one important plot point or any of the relevant Leitmotiven, and you're S.O.L. as we say here in Indiana. I generally approach a new set of the Ring (the complete set, as I'll get to in time) by listening to it once through, and coming back to it - either in certain passages or complete evenings. (Like Messiah, there are a few scenes that have to be absolutely right before I start throwing around the superlatives.) There is also a process of comparison and intense review.
For example, in the prelude to the second scene of Rheingold, as Fricka starts to wake up, there are some string runs underneath the brass work with the Walhall theme. Neither Pierre Boulez or Karl Böhm focuses on these to any great degree, which is to say that he doesn't really add emphasis, while Von Karajan (unsurprisingly) for a set known as the "Chamber Ring") and Lothar Zagrosek (on Naxos) do make them apparent. Did Wagner intend for them to be heard? Probably not, since Von Karajan brings them out, but they're something for which I listen.
Mr. Grella, I think, comes pretty close to making the point that - let's say - some of Wagner's intended orchestral magic needs to be reviewed and appreciated slowly and carefully.
It's never been about that for me, though. I am a believer in choice. If Testament, and I know it's a silly business decision, offered listeners a choice, then I wouldn't complain. I'll put it like this, don't give me coal and tell me it's a diamond. Give me both and let me pick. Buying the whole set wouldn't make me approach it differently. I would have listened the same way that I always do, but I would have done it at a different pace (i.e., not waited egregiously long before finally buying Götterdämmerung).