And I used to think our annual "Records To Die For" issue was difficult. Whew! When it came down to choosing the 40 most influential rock/pop, jazz, and classical records of the past 40 years, during which this magazine has been the most honest and enjoyable source of high-end audio journalism, my initial list contained more than 200 choices. A painful paring-down process ensued, with input from every member of the Stereophile staff.
J.S. BACH: Morimur Partita No.2 in d for Solo Violin, BWV 1004; 11 Chorales; Chaconne from BWV 1004 and "Auf meinen lieben Gott" realized by Helga Thoene for solo violin & four voices Christoph Poppen, baroque violin. The Hilliard Ensemble: Monika Mauch, soprano; David James, countertenor; John Potter, tenor; Gordon Jones, baritone ECM New Series 1765 (CD). 2001. Manfred Eicher, prod.; Peter Laenger, eng. DDD. TT: 61:42 Performance ***** Sonics *****
WAGNER: The Ring of the Nibelung
Norman Bailey, Wotan, Wanderer; Derek Hammond-Stroud, Alberich; Alberto Remedios, Siegmund, Siegfried; Rita Hunter, Brünnhilde; Margaret Curphey, Sieglinde, Gutrune; Gregory Dempsey, Mime; Aage Haugland, Hagen; Norman Welsby, Gunther; Emile Belcourt, Loge; Clifford Grant, Fafner, Hunding; Katherine Pring, Fricka I, Waltraute II; Ann Howard, Fricka II; Anne Collins, Erda, First Norn; Valerie Masterson, Woglinde; Shelagh Squires, Wellgunde; Helen Attfield, Flosshilde; Gillian Knight, Second Norn; Anne Evans, Third Norn; Maurine London, Woodbird; others; Sadler's Wells (Siegfried) and English National Opera Orchestra & Chorus, Reginald Goodall
Chandos CHAN 3065 (16 CDs). 1974–78/2001. John Mordler, Ronald Kinloch Anderson, prods.; Robert Gooch, Stuart Eltham, engs. ADD. TT: 16:53:30
A few conductors have perhaps equaled Georg Solti in their conducting of Richard Wagner's baton-breaking Der Ring des NibelungenKarl Böhm, Daniel Barenboim, Herbert Keilberth, and Reginald Goodall have all had coherent visions of the work which they were able to translate effectively to disc. But no one has ever equaled what Solti, producer John Culshaw, and what looks increasingly like a hitherto unsuspected golden age of Wagner singers, together accomplished: what is still the recording art's crowning achievement.
PÄRT: Fratres Fratres for strings & percussion; Fratres for violin, strings, & percussion; Fratres for wind octet & percussion; Fratres for eight cellos; Fratres for strings; Fratres for string quartet; Fratres for cello & piano. Plus: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, Summa, Festina Lente Rudolf Werthen, I Fiamminghi (The Orchestra of Flanders) Telarc CD-80387 (CD only). James Mallinson, prod.; Jack Renner, Tony Faulkner, engs. DDD. TT: 79:00
STEVE EARLE: Train a Comin' Steve Earle, guitar, harmonica, vocals; Peter Rowan, guitar, mandolin, mandola, vocals; Norman Blake, guitar, dobro, fiddle, Hawaiian guitar; Roy Huskey, acoustic bass; Emmylou Harris, vocals Winter Harvest WH 3302-2 (CD only). Steve Earle, William Alsobrook, prods.; Wayne Neuendorf, Mike Elliot, engs. ADD. TT: 40:01