Saturday, June 23, 2007

Does God Forbid All Contact Whatsoever with the Dead?

By Dave Armstrong (6-23-07)

The following illustrates the logical structure of biblical arguments in favor of contact with the dead under special and specific circumstances and indirectly for the invocation of the saints in heaven (at least how I myself make the argument):
1. We ought to pray for each other (much biblical proof).

2. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects (James 5:16-18).

3. Therefore it makes eminent sense to ask more righteous people to pray for us (implied in same passage).

4. Dead saints are more alive than we ourselves are (e.g., Mt 22:32).

5. Dead saints are aware of what happens on the earth (Heb 12:1 etc.), and indeed, are portrayed as praying for us in heaven (Rev 6:9-10).

6. Dead saints are exceptionally, if not wholly, righteous and holy, since they have been delivered from sin and are present with God (21:27, 22:14).

7. Therefore, it is perfectly sensible and wise to ask them to pray on our behalf to God.
Another related issue is whether God desires contact at all between those on earth and those in heaven (a larger category than simply invocation of the saints). This is a presuppositional issue that is related to invocation of the saints. The mini-argument would run as follows:
A. God desires contact between those in heaven and those on earth (this is a prior, or hidden assumption lying behind #7 above).

B. A is a necessary prerequisite for the notion of invocation or intercession of the saints. In other words, if A is untrue, then B also will be, since B is a sub-group or subset of A.
Note, then, that to support A with biblical examples, as I did, is not at all the same as supporting the full-blown doctrine of the invocation of the saints. Far from it. It is only supporting the necessary prior premise or antecedent premise. This is a fundamental logical distinction. Anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist apologist James White expressly denied A above, in these words:
[T]he prohibition of contact with the dead is specifically in the context of people living on earth seeking to have contact with those who have "passed from this world"! This kind of argumentation leaves the prohibition of contact with the dead meaningless and undefined.
This can be disposed of with one biblical example, from St. Peter, who contacted the dead when He raised Tabitha, saying, "Tabitha, rise" (Acts 9:36-41). Who was he talking to? Well, Tabitha, of course: a dead person! You can't get much more straightforward and plain than that. Therefore, the Bible offers explicit proof that we can have contact with the dead in a certain sense, essentially different from necromancy, use of mediums, and so forth. The opposite argument against invocation of saints, then, from this perspective, is as follows:
X. God prohibits and forbids all contact between those in heaven and those on earth (passages against necromancy, occult arts, etc. are advanced as proof of this).

Y. X is a necessary prerequisite for the notion of invocation or intercession of the saints. Therefore, because X is untrue, Y is also untrue, since Y is a sub-group or subset of X. Case closed; there is no invocation of the saints, according to the Bible.

Besides the Tabitha example, I provided many more in my response, that would utterly contradict and overthrow the claim (White's claim, and that of most Protestants) of X:
A) 1 Samuel 28:12,14-15 (Samuel): the prophet Samuel appeared to King Saul to prophesy his death. The current consensus among biblical commentators (e.g., The New Bible Commentary, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary) is that it was indeed Samuel the prophet, not an impersonating demon (since it happened during a sort of seance with the so-called "witch or medium of Endor"). This was the view of, e.g., St. Justin Martyr, Origen, and St. Augustine, among others. Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 6:19-20 reinforces the latter interpretation: "Samuel . . . after he had fallen asleep he prophesied and revealed to the king his death, and lifted up his voice out of the earth in prophecy, to blot out the wickedness of the people."

B) Matthew 17:1-3 (the Transfiguration: Moses and Elijah): . . . Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. (see also Mark 9:4 and Luke 9:30-31)

C) Matthew 27:52-53 (raised bodies after the crucifixion): . . . the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

D) Revelation 11:3,6 (the "Two Witnesses"): And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days . . . they have power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall . . . and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague . . .

These two witnesses are killed (11:7-9), were raised after "three and a half days" and "stood up on their feet" (11:11), and then "went up to heaven in a cloud" (11:12). Many Church Fathers thought these two were Enoch and Elijah, because both of them didn't die; thus this would explain their dying after this appearance on earth. Some Protestant commentators think the two witnesses are Moses and Elijah, because of the parallel to the Transfiguration, and also similarities with the plagues of Egypt and the fact that Elijah also stopped the rain for three-and-a-half years (James 5:17).

We must conclude based on the above passages that contact between heaven and earth is God's will; otherwise He wouldn't have permitted it in these instances. The Catholic belief in more interconnection between heaven and earth cannot be ruled out as "unbiblical". One has to try other arguments to refute our beliefs in this regard.

I'm not question-begging in the slightest. I'm simply producing biblical data that contradicts the assertion of proposition X above (as opposed to trying to prove the whole notion of invocation of saints from this one passage and other related ones). X claims that God doesn't desire any contact between heaven and earth. The example of Samuel appearing contradicts that.

If a Protestant attempts to claim that this was not Samuel (example A), but only an impersonating demon, then my argument would be undercut. Therefore, it is relevant to establish that it was literally Samuel the prophet, appearing to Saul.

I condemned the occultic sort of "consultation of the dead" in the very section of my book that White was critiquing, that I cited in my reply under consideration. It's not at issue. What Catholics are saying is that not all "contact with the dead, or those in heaven" is of the same nature as this prohibited sort. Anti-Catholics usually assume that the occultic type of "contact" is a category that takes in all conceivable contact whatsoever. But it is not. Accordingly, here is what I cited from my book, The One-Minute Apologist (2007):
A Protestant Might Further Object:

It is not clear how these Catholic practices are any different from the séances, magic, witchcraft, and necromancy forbidden by the Bible. When you come down to it, Catholics are still messing around with dead spirits.

The One-Minute Apologist Says:

Catholics fully agree that these things are prohibited, but deny that the Communion of Saints is a practice included at all in those condemnations.

The difference is in the source of the supernatural power and the intention. When a Christian on earth asks a saint to pray for him (directly supported by the biblical indications above), God is the one whose power makes the relationship between departed and living members of the Body of Christ possible. The medium in a séance, on the other hand, is trying to use her own occultic powers to “conjure up” the dead -- opening up the very real possibility of demonic counterfeit. Catholics aren’t “conjuring” anyone; we’re simply asking great departed saints to pray for us. If they are aware of the earth, then God can also make it possible for them to “hear” and heed our prayer requests. If this weren’t the case, then saints and angels in heaven wouldn’t be portrayed as they are in Scripture: intensely active and still involved in earthly affairs.

(p. 121)

My argument had to do solely with "contact between heaven and earth". Samuel talks to Saul, the Two Witnesses in Revelation preach and testify, and the bodies raised from the dead after the Crucifixion "appeared to many" (and it is quite reasonable to assume they spoke and communicated, rather than just walking around like a bunch of deaf and dumb zombies or Frankenstein).
About all that White and other anti-Catholics might be able to do with this is sophistically argue that God doesn't want us to seek contact with dead saints, but does, however, initiate such contact Himself in extraordinary instances and situations (i.e., to somehow distinguish the two as completely different in essence, with one being "bad" and the other "good").

But that breaks down, too, because Peter deliberately initiated contact with the dead Tabitha, when he talked to her and told her to rise from the dead. That is not rebuked anywhere in the Bible.

And it is implausible anyway to say that, on the one hand, God doesn't want us to contact the dead, when it is a plain fact that He Himself caused it to happen on at least four occasions, exactly the sort of "contact" that is (morally) indistinguishable from instances of our initiating contact. In other words, the following association of propositions and events do not exactly fit together with all that much coherence:
1. God wants no one to initiate contact with dead saints.

1A. Yet He sent the dead Samuel to rebuke Saul for his sins.

1B. Yet He sent Moses and Elijah to meet with Jesus on a mountain, in plain sight of Peter, James, and John.

1C. Yet He allowed dead bodies of the departed to resurrect and walk around Jerusalem appearing to many after the Crucifixion.

1D. Yet He will send at the end of the age the Two Witnesses referred to in Revelation (thought by many commentators to be either Moses and Elijah or Enoch and Elijah) to talk to many people for three-and-a-half years (!!!).

This is, technically, an argument from plausibility, not absolutely necessary logical connections, but it still has considerable force. I would say that if #1 above were indeed true, as anti-Catholics and even most ecumenical Protestants assume and assert, it would be (arguably or speculatively) implausible for God to allow 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D to occur, as they send a message quite arguably at odds with proposition #1.

To illustrate by analogy, it would be like saying, as a parent, "children shouldn't seek to have ice cream, because that is an altogether evil thing, and therefore forbidden by parents." But then the same parent gives the children ice cream twice a week. Would it really make sense to claim that it was evil for the children to seek an "evil" thing, while the parents themselves provide the "evil" thing themselves, that they told the children never to seek, on grounds that it was wicked to do so? Is that not a radically mixed message, and a bit incoherent?

Likewise, in the present case. Therefore, there is an indirect relation between these events and invocation of saints. But I only claim as much as I originally did: this biblical evidence unarguably, indisputably disproves the claim that God wants no such contact or communication at all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue on Corpus Christi (Eucharistic Processions and Adoration)

By Dave Armstrong (6-18-07)

Color codes:

Rev. William Weedon: blue
Tom R.: purple
Rev. Paul T. McCain: green
John H.: orange
Josh S.: red

Note that the Lutherans in 17th century Magdeburg DID continue to observe Corpus Christi - in the sense that the Divine Service on the Thursday after Trinity shared the same readings and almost the exact same sequence hymn as the Roman Catholics. But of course with the Lutherans there was no procession with half the Sacrament or other such tomfoolery. Instead, I'd be willing to bet, there was preaching against the Roman practices that ran contrary to the Words of the Lord and instead an exulting in what those words give us: the Lord's true body and blood for us Christians to eat and drink under the form of bread and wine for the forgiveness of our sins. Whether or not such a feast is worthy of being revived among Lutherans today or not - that is a question Lutherans can and should engage and discuss. What is beyond dispute is that it continued in some form among Lutherans long after the Reformation and into the age of Lutheran Orthodoxy.

Why is it considered "tomfoolery" simply because we believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist longer than you do? It seems to me that is something where reasonable people can disagree. I don't speak in such terms of the Lutheran view of the Eucharist; I simply disagree with it, while also rejoicing in the similarities between us.

I am much more likely to be severely critical of the Reformed notions of the Eucharist, because I consider it incoherent philosophical mumbo-jumbo. But see, that is because that is a major disagreement: they deny the Real Presence. But you guys don't.

It's a relatively minor disagreement between us (we largely agree on the "majors" of Real Presence).

The tomfoolery is not in regard to questions of duration (about which Lutherans have some honest disagreements among themselves), but to a use of the Sacrament for which it was not instituted. Our blessed Lord gave us His most precious body and blood and commanded: "eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins" not "divide and process through the streets."

I'm moderately agnostic on whether the bread and wine remain the Lord's body and blood after the Supper has ended. My understanding is the Lutheran position is that it's better to ensure nothing is left over ("take, eat") than to start asking questions about the nature of any "leftovers".

I just completed reading again the Smalcald Articles and what the Formula of Concord has to say about the Lord's Supper. Dynamite stuff that.

Reserving the Blessed Sacrament, the Most Venerable Sacrament of the Altar, as it is described in the and hokum.

The Lord gave it to us to eat and to drink, not to tuck away somewhere to "adore" it outside of its instituted use. Much pastoral wisdom there.

There, I said something about Corpus Christi festivals in Lutheran churches.

Where is sola Scriptura in the deposit of faith? The best apologists for that false doctrine (e.g., Keith Mathison) will even concede that it is an inference and not a direct teaching of Scripture (I think Keith said that; I'd have to check again for sure).

Where is the canon of Scripture in the apostolic deposit?

Where is the Chalcedonian definition of the Two Natures of Christ in the apostolic deposit? Did not the Church have to make quite significant inferences and deductions and elaborate "speculation" on the simpler kernel of Jesus' divinity that was received in the deposit?

I'm sure I could think of other examples, but this suffices.

It seems to me that a Lutheran must concede that there were legitimate developments and "inferences" made, in application of the received doctrines and revelation.

Granting that this is the case (as I contend you must), then your burden is to establish that liturgical practice is somehow an entirely different category, whereby no "inference" or development of practice or diversity of allowable practice is allowed. Josh wrote: "God gives promises with his own mouth; we do not deduce them."

Is that so? Where, then, is the canon of Scripture from God's "own mouth", or sola Scriptura, or (for that matter) Jesus "in, with, and under" the elements, as you guys believe, or the Two Natures or refutations of Monophysitism or Monotheletism?

That would be extremely interesting for me to see how you would argue that. I hope someone does.

Josh wrote: "Further, God is deadly serious about inventing worship that seems right to us without his command and promise."

I see. So, then, tell me: how do you view all the differences in liturgical practice among Lutherans (e.g., the closed communion controversy)? Do you get all upset and outraged that the next Lutheran denomination over has departed from God's instructions? I don't believe it is absolutely uniform. So why don't you loosen up a bit and allow diversity of worship?

If that objection collapses, then you are left with the merely "quantitative" arguments based on duration of the Real Presence (and two of you have acknowledged that there are inter-Lutheran disagreements on that).

Therefore, if these Lutheran differences exist, it seems to me that the Catholic approach is only a bit further along on the continuum: we believe Jesus is present for a longer period and that it is appropriate, therefore, to worship and adore Him in processions, etc.

On what basis, then (in this second scenario) is there an objection, let alone describing it as "tomfoolery" or "hokum" or far worse mocking, denigrating terms that I'm sure Luther and others have uttered through the years?

Why can't we just respectfully disagree? Something like, "my Catholic brethren differ from us in this regard but we respect their belief as an alternative vision of eucharistic adoration that we don't ourselves hold. They are worshiping consistently and reverently according to their conception of how the Real Presence works out in practice. Their desire is to worship Jesus, and surely we can't object to that, though we disagree with this particular method and conception of eucharistic worship".

Would that put anyone out, to have that sort of tolerant, ecumenical attitude about it, while not compromising one's own belief in the slightest?

Do you, as a Catholic, believe that Christ is present when an ordained Lutheran pastor holds up a Eucharistic host and recites the words "This is my body"? Or is there just a layman in a white robe holding a piece of bread?

The latter, due to the absence of apostolic succession and hence, [fully sacramental] ordination. That doesn't mean we would mock what goes on there, as you guys do our eucharistic adoration and sacrifice of the mass. We think there is a great deal of value in the piety of sincere beliefs and reverence, and Luther's view on the Eucharist is pretty good. But the succession question is key to why we ultimately have to dissent from believing that Jesus is truly present, as He is in the Orthodox and Catholic liturgies.

Since the Word of God provides us with the instruction of our Lord about the use of the Holy Sacrament - that we are to eat and drink His body and blood and thus proclaim His death until He comes - and says nothing about parading around town with the most sacred species, I will stick to calling it tomfoolery, which it is, and ask my dear Roman brother to please consider that it is not out of malice that we reject such a practice and speak against it, but out of faithfulness to the revealed Word and love for the Blessed Sacrament.

I appreciate that disclaimer. Nor is it out of malice that I hold the view that the Real Presence isn't "real" in Lutheran services, based on our beliefs. But I can't imagine making fun of a rite that adherents believe to be much as we believe our Mass to be. I respect that. It's a sincerely held error, and God looks at the heart. Lutherans are at church to worship Jesus, just as we are.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bill Cork's Catholic-to-Adventist Conversion: He Offers no Solid Reason to Join Either Communion

By Dave Armstrong (6-17-07)

Josh S. (Lutheran) had written about Bill Cork's odyssey on his blog:

It's interesting. [link to original sermon] The last few paragraphs are especially interesting. I kinda wondered why he would switch from RC-ism to SDA-ism, but I guess it makes sense if his wife and kids were SDA the whole time. I think the phenomenon of such radical theological shift is really fascinating and makes me appreciate Luther that much more. I think that when so much doctrine is put forward almost entirely on the premise, "trust us," when you stop trusting the guys in charge, nearly every doctrine falls, including biblical doctrines like baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence. Chemnitz has some interesting remarks to this effect on the lack of Scripture proofs in Trents statements on infant baptism.
I replied:
This is precisely what can happen, of course, when one ditches apologetics and doesn't incorporate it into his belief-system. If you don't understand why you believe what you believe, then all it takes is a few difficulties or disappointments or a bit of adversity (or family conflicts) and it can all come crashing down like the proverbial house built on a foundation of sand.

I wasn't the slightest bit surprised by this news about Bill Cork because I had seen how he was trashing apologetics: the very thing that could have been a great aid to prevent him from returning back to where he was. In other words, if you have no reasons for why you are in a certain place, then there is no reason to stay there! It's as simple as that.

It's common sense, really: if you trash the very enterprise that is dedicated to giving a rational defense, then obviously you must not think that it can be defended at all, and so therefore, you leave yourself wide open.

This dynamic applies to any Christian body, not just to Catholics. In fact, I saw on this very blog where you wrote that Lutherans don't really do apologetics; they simply proclaim. If you want to go that route, then don't be surprised if you see folks leaving Lutheranism, since Lutheranism has deliberately, consciously shunned the apologetic enterprise. If Lutherans must simply accept the whole thing with blind faith and check their mind at the door, then what else would you expect?

Some folks will have sufficient faith, but others who aren't so blessed will be dissuaded by skepticism and outside influences.
Then I read Cork's testimony and replied at greater length:

* * *

Yep; I read Cork's sermon and found exactly what I expected to find: postmodernist mush:

1) No reasons given for why he left Adventism in the first place, other than the natural rebelliousness and cynicism of a 21-year-old ("I was not only over my head theologically, but was beginning to get a big head on my shoulders, too . . . I can laugh now at my attitude in those days.").

2) Refreshingly, he did, at least, have a decent reason to leave a liberal ELCA church (sanctioning of homosexuality). But one needs no apologetics to know this because it is an intuitive moral question that is ingrained in all of us.

3) No reasons given for why he became Catholic in the first place other than friendly Franciscans and the "beauty and love of many of its members, and by its rich traditions of prayer and spirituality."

I'm glad he met some loving Catholics, but this stuff can be found anywhere. You want family values and squeaky clean morals? The Mormons do great at that. If you want nice people, the Methodists will do (having been raised Methodist and with both parents and all four grandparents Methodist, I can say that). You want traditions of prayer and spirituality? The Orthodox can do that; even the Anglicans, with their glorious Book of Common Prayer. Pentecostals have great committed prayer (and experience, if that is your thing); Mennonites have a great spiritual tradition and understand simple living. Lutherans and Anglicans have pretty church buildings and an appreciation of art and music. Reformed are good at culture and Baptists at evangelism and missions. Etc. etc. None of this is any compelling reason to choose one truth claim over another. Yet this is all he has given us. He apparently had no theological clue as to why he left Adventism and none for why he adopted Catholicism.

And people are surprised that he decided to make another change?

This guy could be a director of religious education, did evangelism, and was a campus minister and didn't even have an elementary understanding of the apologetic, biblical basis for his beliefs?

4) At length Cork concluded: "Many Catholic teachings have no other foundation than the Church’s claim to teach with authority: purgatory, Marian dogmas, saints, indulgences, the papacy, etc. These are not Bible doctrines."

Good grief. How in the Hades does a guy become a Catholic, teach, become involved in extensive lay ministry for thirteen years and not even have the slightest awareness of the abundant biblical apologetics to be had for all these doctrines??!!

So he was sitting there teaching all this stuff, while at the same time believing that the Church gave no biblical reasons whatsoever for the beliefs? This is incomprehensible to me. When I was an evangelical, I sought to understand the apologetic for that (broad) position; when I was considering Catholicism, I extensively studied the apologetic for Catholicism and critiques of Protestantism. I could no more convert to another belief-system without having abundant reasons for doing so than water could cease to be wet.

But in our postmodernist era, reasons in matters of religion count for little or nothing. It's all subjectivism and private religion. Reason leads to division and fights (so the pomo mentality goes), so let's just make religion a private matter of taste . . .

This is fundamental. One may agree or disagree with the defenses given, but at least people ought to make some attempt to become familiar with the arguments that Catholics give on these things, from the Bible. My own apostolate specializes in that. But I am only one of many Catholic apologists.

Cork, however, didn't do that. He simply concluded that the Catholic Church supposedly requires everyone to believe these things with no biblical rationale whatsoever, as if it is sheer blind faith.

For heaven's sake, just in my writing alone, he could have found dozens upon dozens of biblical arguments in favor of all these doctrines. I would have been happy to send him any of my books for free, if he would just read them with an open mind and see the arguments that a Catholic gives.

But if you "diss" apologetics, this is the sort of ludicrous, head-in-the-sand attitude that you develop. Far better to understand the apologetic / biblical arguments of your own communion and reject them; say they are woefully inadequate or inferior to alternatives (and hopefully understand those properly too), but to pretend they aren't even there is truly astounding.

And so we see that it took very little to send Cork back to his former allegiance. He had a loving wife who had always been SDA, and that is always a strong motivator to a man (I understand that), but it is no theological reason. It's not a rational basis for rejecting one belief-system and adopting another. And so, how does he become an Adventist again? By pure non-rational subjectivism:
Eventually the scales fell from my eyes and I asked, “How did I get here?”

Like the Prodigal Son, I looked up and realized, maybe I can go home.

And that’s when an old professor at AUC, Rick Trott, said, “Come home.”

That’s when I was here at this church, for a concert by my little brother, and Roy Chin stood in this spot and looked me in the eye and said, “Come home.”

How many times do we hear that invitation in Scripture? Come home. Turn around. Be converted.
I could just as well become a Hare Krishna or a Muslim with this amount of reasoning involved.

Cork then got "re-baptized." So an educated man like himself was somehow led to believe that Catholic baptism isn't valid anymore? On what basis does he do so? What did he teach about baptism all those years when he was involved in Catholic education? He must have taught his charges something about baptism and these other doctrines. What was it? Did he just tell them to "trust the Church"?

What few reasons Cork did offer for his change had to do with sin: as if it were monopolized by the Catholic Church (patristic anti-Semitism, the crusades, and the recent sexual scandal).

Jesus was already scathingly criticizing the young churches (see the book of Revelation). Does Cork think he has found the perfect church, where no sin can be found? This is no reason to leave one belief-system and join another (on the grounds that one is filled with sin and the other is supposedly completely different).

He objects to anti-Semitism from 1600 years ago in the Fathers, yet he can stomach the rampant anti-Catholic bigotry that is present in SDA? That's odd.

I could write more about it, but that is my general response. I contend that (at least from the data offered in this sermon) Bill Cork had insufficient reasons to leave SDA in the first place; had insufficient reasons to become a Catholic; had insufficient reasons to forsake the Catholic Church, and insufficient reasons to become SDA again. And this is a highly educated man.

In this age, folks can make such changes and not be expected to give any reasons at all (I am being general below; not implying that Bill Cork would necessarily say any of these things):
"hey, it just felt right"

"God told me to leave SDA/become Catholic / leave Catholicism / join SDA again"

"it's my personal business"

"I had no reason to be a Catholic, so why not rather be an SDA for no reason, since my wife is already there?"
None of this will do. This is more than just a Catholic apologist defending Catholic beliefs. This is a general principle of incorporating a rational understanding into religious belief; of loving God with our minds as well as with all our heart, soul, and strength. It's a matter of the biblical command to know what we believe (1 Peter 3:15) and to contend earnestly for it (Jude 3).

Now, again, it may be that there were some apologetic reasons in play in his journey, somewhere (I don't deny that any exist, period, and would be happy to interact with these, should Dr. Cork wish to do so). But I have seen none mentioned in this sermon / testimony. So why should anyone be surprised that the man has been tossed to and fro, and for no particular compelling reasons at each junction where he switched trains? This is to be fully expected. If he has no reason to be SDA this time around, then it is entirely possible that he could leave again for no reason and join something else for no reason because he has no reason to stay.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Recommended Romantic and Post-Romantic Orchestral Music (Composers: Sibelius to Weber)

By Dave Armstrong (6-13-07)

JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957)

Symphonic Poems and Various Orchestral Works

BPO/Karajan (80s) / 1984 "his greatest account [Tapiola]. Never has it sounded more mysterious . . . this Berlin/Karajan partnership has never been equalled . . . orchestral playing is, of course, really in a class of its own"LSO/Davis 1999
BPO/Karajan (mid-60s) / 2000 "Finlandia is one of the finest accounts available, with eloquent playing"BPO/Karajan [Pelleas et Melisande] 2003 "altogether magical . . . plenty of mystery . . . fervour and eloquence . . . great clarity and presence"
BPO/Karajan (1977) / 2005 "great performances and totally committed"
RSO/Gibson (late 70s) / 2005 "Gibson's affinity with the Sibelius idiom at its most convincing . . . much that is impressive . . . fine playing"
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Jarvi 2005

Symphony No. 1

VPO/Maazel (mid-60s) / 1991
PHO/Ashkenazy 1998 "quite simply the best of all . . . superb detail and clarity of texture . . . finely shaped . . . playing . . . is of the very first order"
BPO/Karajan (1981) / 2002 "sense of grandeur and vision . . . heroic dimensions"
VPO/Bernstein 2004

Symphony No. 2

VPO/Maazel (mid-60s) / 1991
BSO/Davis 1995 "dignified and well-proportioned account . . . sensitivity and freshness"
PHO/Ashkenazy 1998 "superb sound . . . passionate, volatile reading . . . very Russian reading of Sibelius"
CON/Szell 2001 "marvellous . . . splendidly taut and well held together . . . great tension and power"
VPO/Bernstein 2004 "orchestral playing is impressive"
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Jarvi 2005 "excellent-sounding . . . plenty of presence . . . powerful performance of much honesty and directness . . . thoroughly convincing"

Symphony No. 3

VPO/Maazel (mid-60s) / 1991
PHO/Ashkenazy 1998 "first-class account . . . warmth, colour and drama"
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Jarvi 2005 "sense of the epic . . . very beautifully played and recorded . . . can hold its own with any in the catalogue"

Symphony No. 4

1998 "great concentration of feeling . . . terracing of dynamic contrasts . . . splendid drama and intensity throughout . . . very impressive performance"BPO/Karajan (mid-60s) / 1999 "performance is of real stature . . . depth . . . sense of mystery . . . concentration and tension"
VPO/Maazel (1968) / 2000
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Jarvi 2005 "recording is notably fresh and vivid . . . introspection"

Symphony No. 5

VPO/Maazel (mid-60s) / 1991
PHO/Ashkenazy 1998 "exceptionally well recorded . . . immediacy and warmth of atmosphere . . . the brass has bite as well as richness of sonority"
BPO/Karajan (1964) / 1999 "undoubtedly a great performance . . . orchestral playing throughout is glorious and the effect is spacious and atmospheric . . . jubilation in the finale . . . classic"
PHO/Rattle 2001 "scrupulous in observing every dynamic nuance to the letter and spirit . . . splendid sense of atmosphere in the development and power . . . the playing is superb, with the recording to match"
VPO/Bernstein 2004
Symphony No. 6

VPO/Maazel (mid-60s) / 1991
PHO/Ashkenazy 1998 "possibly the most successful and technically impressive in the Decca cycle"
BPO/Karajan (mid-60s) 1999 "glorious . . . remains almost unsurpassed"
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Jarvi 2005 "well thought out and often impressive. It can hold its own with most competition."

Symphony No. 7

PHO/Ashkenazy 1998 "Magnificent sound and very impressive playing . . . nobility"
VPO/Maazel (1968) / 2000
VPO/Bernstein 2004
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Jarvi 2005 "Jarvi is a sympathetic and authoritative guide in this terrain . . . fine performance"


Ma Vlast

VPO/Levine 1992 "clear first choice . . . quite splendid, full of momentum and thrust, aptly paced, with much imaginative detail . . . the sound is full-bodied and vivid"DRE/Berglund 2000 "the playing of the Dresden orchestra is magnificent"
CON/Dorati 2001 "extremely fine account . . . vivid drama and orchestral playing of the finest quality . . . high adrenalin level throughout, yet points of detail are not missed"

Ma Vlast: Vltava (The Moldau)

BPO/Fricsay 2001 "inspired . . . irresistible. The river sounds as if it is in full flood . . . recording is very bright and vivid"
BPO/Karajan 2003 "vivid, sounding more robust in its digital remastering, but still expressively refined in detail and more spontaneous-sounding"

JOHANN STRAUSS, JR. (1825-1899)


VPO/Boskovsky 2001 "vintage Boskovsky recordings . . . the sound is basically vivid, with a pleasing ambience"



Alpine Symphony

RPO/Kempe (1967) /
LAP/Mehta (1976) / "among the best Strauss he has given us . . . outstandingly successful in combining range, atmosphere and body, with remarkable detail . . . the effect remains spectacular"
BAV/Solti (1980) / 1994 "could hardly sound more opulent, with brass of striking richness . . . warmth of sound . . . generally fast tempi . . . sympathetic and committed playing"
DRE/Kempe 1999 "breadth and majesty and atmosphere . . . richness of tone"

BPO/Karajan (1981) / 2003 "wonderfully spacious, beautifully shaped and played with the utmost virtuosity . . . certainly one of the finest accounts"
SNO/Jarvi 2004

Sinfonia Domestica

LAP/Mehta (1970) /
BAV/Maazel 1996
DRE/Kempe 1999
SNO/Jarvi 2004 "strongly characterized, good-natured account . . . gutsy . . . the epilogue exuberant"
BPO/Karajan (6-73) / 2005


Also sprach Zarathustra

BPO/Karajan (1984 DGG) / 1993 "very hard to beat and may well be first choice . . . sumptuous tonal refinement . . in Strauss, of course, Karajan has no peer . . . the playing . . . is in a totally different league"CSO/Reiner (50s) / 1993
CSO/Solti (mid-70s) / 1994 "ripely expansive"
BSO/Ozawa 1995 "warmly persuasive . . . wonderfully warm and natural sound . . . seductive phrasing and warmth rather than high drama or nobility"
DRE/Kempe (1974) / 1999 "powerful in its emotional thrust . . . admirably paced . . . opulence . . . sound has both body and bloom"

VPO/Karajan (3-59) / 2000 "enormously wide dynamic range . . . a fine recommendation"BPO/Karajan (1974 DGG) / 2003 "has long held sway and generally makes a strong recommendation"
BPO/Bohm 2004 [used for 2001: A Space Odyssey]
SNO/Jarvi 2004

Death and Transfiguration

DSO/Dorati "austere . . . plenty of atmosphere . . . climax has real splendour (and a magnificent breadth of sound)"LSO/Abbado "plenty of dash . . . tempered with sensitivity . . . scarcely less impressive than Karajan's"
CLE/Maazel 1990 "extrovert view . . . opulent climax is endearingly rose-tinted"VPO/Karajan (1959 or 1960) / 1990 "among the very finest . . . makes up in flair and warmth what [it] may slightly lack in polish compared with the later Berlin versions"BPO/Karajan (80s) / 1996 "quite electrifying . . . no lack of vividness, and the playing of the Berliners is in itself thrilling"
BPO/Karajan (1973) / 1996 "superlative . . . showpiece . . . sound is both vivid and refined in its detail . . . Karajan reigns supreme in this work . . . orchestral playing in the highest class"
BAV/Maazel 1996
PHO/Klemperer 1998 "excites the greatest admiration . . . invested with a nobility too rarely heard in this work"DRE/Kempe (1974) / 1999 "marvellously characterized"CLE/Szell 2000 "tremendous vitality and electricity"SNO/Jarvi 2004
LPO/Tennstedt 2005 "impressively spacious performance, very well played and recorded"

Don Juan

DSO/Dorati "heroic . . . brilliant rather than sumptuous"
LSO/Abbado 1990 "must be numbered among the best available"CLE/Maazel 1990 "made totally sympathetic, with Maazel relishing every moment . . . final climax is ecstatic . . . the brass has telling bite and sonority"BPO/Karajan (1984) / 1993 "exciting account"CSO/Solti (mid-70s) / 1994 "glorious playing from the Chicago orchestra in peak form"
CSO/Reiner (50s) / 1996 "among the finest ever . . . superbly thrilling climax where the great horn theme leaps out unforgettably"
PHO/Klemperer 1998 "certainly not lacking in strength of characterization"
DRE/Kempe (1973) / 1999 "comparable with Karajan's reading and certainly does not come second best"
BPO/Bohm (1958?) / 2000
CLE/Szell 2000 "tremendous vitality and electricity"
VPO/Karajan (6-60) / 2000 "among the very finest . . . great zest and passion"
BPO/Karajan (1973) / 2003 "thrilling account . . . stunning virtuosity . . . sound of striking fidelity . . . excellent overall clarity within an ambience that seems near ideal . . . a degree of rapture not surpassed in the digital re-make"SNO/Jarvi 2004

Don Quixote

CSO/Reiner 1996
BPO/Karajan (1963) / 1998 "handling of orchestral detail is splendid . . . sounds remarkably fresh and transparent"
DRE/Kempe (1973) / 1999 "one of the very finest available . . . combines warmth and body"
SNO/Jarvi 2004
BPO/Karajan (1-75) / 2005

Ein Heldenleben

DRE/Blomstedt "warm, with articulate detail, but great tonal homogeneity . . . genuine heroic stride and a sense of dramatic excitement . . . glorious Straussian textures . . . the most completely satisfying"CSO/Reiner (50s) / 1993 "among the finest ever"
VPO/Solti 1994BPO/Karajan (80s) / 1996 "tremendous sweep and all the authority and mastery that we have come to expect . . . in terms of sheer virtuosity the Berlin players have never surpassed this . . . also a dramatic fire . . . that [is] quite electrifying"
DRE/Kempe (1974) / 1999 "splendid orchestra . . . glowing with life"BPO/Karajan (1959) / 2000
SNO/Jarvi 2004 "very strongly characterized, warmly sympathetic . . . powerfully thrustful playing . . . rich and brilliant recording"
BPO/Karajan (9-74) / 2005 "virtuosity of technique . . . outstanding"

Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks

LSO/Abbado "must be numbered among the best available"
DSO/Dorati "essentially a picaresque portrait, not without humour and well-paced . . . dazzling brilliance of detail and focus"
CLE/Maazel 1990 "warmly affectionate . . . exhilaratingly paced and has excellent detail"CSO/Solti (mid-70s) / 1994 "This is Solti at his strongest"
PHO/Klemperer 1998 "marvellous Philharmonia playing . . . sounds sumptuous"
DRE/Kempe (1974) / 1999 "marvellously characterized . . . rather mellow portrayal of Till is particularly attractive"BPO/Bohm (1958) / 2000
CLE/Szell 2000 "tremendous vitality and electricity"
VPO/Karajan (6-60) / 2000
BPO/Karajan (1974 DGG) / 2003 "vividly characterized performance . . . winningly characterized and exhilarating in impulse"
SNO/Jarvi 2004 "brings out the joy of the work"



Firebird (1910 complete version)

OSM/Dutoit 1990 "characteristically colourful and atmospheric reading . . . brings out the light and shade"NYP/Boulez (1975) / 1990 "highly coloured reading, and one which is very dramatic too . . . the playing is first class: the music making has considerable magnetism"PHO/Ansermet (1968) / 1997 "polished playing . . . firmness and precision of sound . . . vividly realistic acoustic . . . sense of presence is startling"
(10-82) / 1999 "recording is consistently spectacular and realistic throughout . . . the clarity and definition of dark, hushed passages is amazing . . . performance is very precise . . . a strong and beautiful reading . . . impact of the sound [is] most impressive"
CON/Davis 2002 "superb analogue sound . . . magically evocative account"
COL/Stravinsky 2003 "the composer tellingly relates it to his later work, refusing to treat it as merely atmospheric. What he brings out more than others is the element of grotesque fantasy"

Petrouchka (1911 version)

LSO/Dutoit (1977) / "triumphantly spontaneous . . . rhythms that are incisive yet beautifully buoyant . . . expressiveness . . . magical . . . the recording is rich and atmospheric"
LPO/Haitink (1974) / 1990 "a very involving account, with detail imaginatively delineated. The rhythmic feeling is strong . . . wind playing is especially fine"

OSM/Dutoit 1990 "superb, atmospheric but well-detailed sound . . . sparkling performance that brings out the light and the shade . . . poetry and rhythmic effervescence . . . no lack of either power or bite"
LSO/Abbado 1997 "extremely spectacular digital sound . . . performance is strongly characterized, and the LSO play marvellously . . . refinement and a powerful sense of dramatic atmosphere . . . kaleidoscopic brilliance"

Petrouchka (1947 version)

COL [LA] /Stravinsky (1960) / 1990 "presents a very convincing case for a basically fierce approach, full of malevolent grotesquerie . . . the frenetic element is tellingly made"DSO/Dorati 1990 "recording is consistently spectacular and realistic throughout . . . the sound is breathtakingly vivid and clean . . . immensely dramatic . . . Dorati is at his finest in the final tableau"
NYP/Bernstein 1990 "one of the most involved and warm-hearted ever recorded . . . goes to the emotional heart of the score . . . unrivaled intensity and splendidly vivid recording"LPO/Haitink 1993
CON/Davis 2002 "brilliant and rich recording . . . Davis makes it clear that he regards this as fun music, drawing brilliantly precise playing . . . excitement"
CBO/Rattle 2004 "robust exuberance . . . full of fun, colourful and dramatic in its evocation of the fairground . . . full and brilliant recording"

The Rite of Spring (Le sacre du printemps)

LPO/Haitink 1993 "natural, unforced quality . . . brings real compulsion. More than most . . . he convincingly echoes the example of the composer himself . . . the bite and precision of the playing is most impressive"LSO/Abbado 1997 "on points of detail it is meticulous . . . hypnotically atmospheric feeling . . . wide dynamic range"DSO/Dorati (5-81) / 1999 "recording is consistently spectacular and realistic throughout . . . in terms of recorded sound . . . scores over almost all its rivals . . . It is a very good performance, too . . . generating plenty of excitement . . . belongs among the very best"
PHI/Muti 2002 "aggressively brutal yet presents this violence with red-blooded conviction . . . strikingly bold and dramatic, with brass and percussion exceptionally vividly caught. The effect is very exciting, without being fierce"COL [NYP] /Stravinsky (1960) / 2003 "has never been surpassed as an interpretation . . . The whole performance is magnetic, with the argument and tension superbly held together . . . brass and percussion have thrilling impact"
CSO/Solti 2003 "powerful, unrelenting account . . . virtuoso playing . . . Solti at his most tautly dramatic. It is extremely vivid, and highly spectacular too"
NYP/Bernstein 2004 [Stravinsky himself stated "wow!"]



Nutcracker Suite

CSO/Solti 1998 "marvellously characterful solo playing and much subtle detail"
OSM/Dutoit 1999 "piquant sense of colour and delicacy of articulation"
VPO/Karajan (1962) / 1999 "offers fine playing"
LSO/Previn 2002 "at once vivid and elegant, warm and exciting"
CLE/Maazel 2004 "vivid orchestral playing and bright, crisply focused recording . . . enjoyably colorful"

Nutcracker (Complete)

RPO/Previn 1990 "superbly played . . . freshness . . . playing is elegant and polished"
LSO/Mackerras 1990 "richly expansive . . . sparkling vivacity . . . superb sonority from the brass"
BPO/Bychkov 1990 "superlative playing, of striking flair and character"
LSO/Previn 2002 "sophistication . . . orchestral playing throughout is of very high quality"

Sleeping Beauty Suite

BPO/Karajan (1972) / 1990 "electrifying . . . orchestral solos are wonderfully polished and beguiling"
BPO/Rostropovich 1997 "highly distinguished, as fine as any in the catalogue . . . admirably combine[s] Slavonic intensity with colour"VPO/Karajan (1965) / 1999 "offers fine playing"LSO/Previn 2002 "at once vivid and elegant, warm and exciting"

Sleeping Beauty (Complete)

2002 "superb in every way, marvellously played and very well recorded . . . trumpet and horn fanfares are splendid . . . the work could not be entrusted to more caring or sensitive direction . . . haunting sense of anticipation and fantasy . . . outstanding achievement in every way"LSO/Previn 2002

Swan Lake Suite

CON/Fistoulari (1961) / "magnificent . . . certainly the finest in the catalogue and probably the most distinguished single set of highlights from any Tchaikovsky ballet"
BPO/Karajan (1972) / 1990 "outstanding musically"
CSO/Solti 1998
VPO/Karajan (1965) / 1999
"offers fine playing"
LSO/Previn 2002 "at once vivid and elegant, warm and exciting . . . superbly played . . . highly recommendable"
BSO/Ozawa 2003 "sophistication of playing and recording . . . final climax expands magnificently"

Swan Lake (Complete)

LSO/Previn (1976) / 2002 "extremely polished orchestral playing, with beautiful wind solos, helped by a full, resonant recording . . . much refined detail and no lack of drama"


Capriccio Italien

OSM/Dutoit 1999 "particularly successful . . . high spirits and elegance"
BPO/Karajan 2000 "played with splendid panache and with exhilarating orchestral bravura at the close . . . brass fanfares are superbly telling"

1812 Overture

LSO/Previn (1973) / 1990 "undoubtedly among the finest available . . . exciting without getting out of hand at the end"
CSO/Solti 1998 "exciting and spectacular . . . bold immediacy of the Chicago sound . . . powerful, sonorous brass at climaxes . . . compulsive music-making throughout"
OSM/Dutoit 1999 "exciting . . . the sound is refined and luminous"
BPO/Karajan 2000 "very professional
and quite exciting"
BSO/Davis 2006 "one of the most satisfying versions ever recorded . . . splendidly played and satisfyingly alert"

Marche Slave

LSO/Previn (1973) / 1997 "undoubtedly among the finest available . . . overall control of structure and tension is very impressive"BPO/Karajan 2002 "fine combination of dignity and flair"
CSO/Reiner (3-59) / 2004

Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture

LSO/Previn (1973) / 1997 "undoubtedly among the finest available . . . vigor and spontaneity"
CSO/Solti 1998 "yearning passion without histrionics"
VPO/Karajan (early 60s) / 2001 "superb ardour and excitement . . . spontaneous freshness . . . sound is full, firm and clear"
CLE/Maazel 2002 "spaciously romantic performance, reaching a climax of considerable passion"PHO/Muti 2003
BSO/Davis 2006 "consistently satisfying impact throughout"


No. 4

BPO/Karajan (1977) / 1997 "vitality and drive . . . finale has tremendous force"
LSO/Szell 1999
CLE/Maazel 2002 "amplitude and breadth in preference to uninhibited extrovert excitement"VPO/Gergiev (10-21-02) / 2005
LEN/Mravinsky (9-60) / 2006

No. 5

PHO/AshkenazyBPO/Karajan (1976) / 1997 "although the overall sound-picture is brilliantly lit, it has depth and weight too, besides strong projection and impact"CSO/Abbado 2002 "fine . . . admirably fresh and superbly played . . . the finale has fine energy and momentum"RPO/Previn 2003 "fine concern for detail . . . expressive style . . . drama . . . excitement . . . outsnadingly satisfying reading"
VPO/Gergiev 2005CLE/Szell (10-23-59) / 2006
LEN/Mravinsky (11-60) / 2006

No. 6 ("Pathetique")

PHO/Ashkenazy 1990 "remarkably crisp articulation, producing an electrifying forward thrust . . . freshness and spontaneity . . . the finale combines passion with tenderness . . . a more poignant culmination than usual . . . among the finest ever recorded"BPO/Karajan (1977) / 1997 "climactic peaks are created with fierce bursts of tension, and the effect on the listener is almost overwhelming . . . finale has great passion and eloquence"
Russian National Orchestra/Pletnev 2000BPO/Karajan (1964) / 2003 "steady emotional thrust . . . deeply committed playing . . . the physical thrill of the closing pages is very gripping indeed . . . overall an engulfing experience"
VPO/Gergiev 2005
LEN/Mravinsky (11-60) / 2006



The Flying Dutchman

BPO/Karajan 1993 "larger than life . . . relates this early work to later Wagner, Tristan above all"PHO/Klemperer (1968) / 2000


VPO/Solti (1970) / 2002 "electrifying experience . . . Solti gives one of his very finest Wagner performances to date, helped by superb playing . . . the sound is outstanding for its period . . . atmospheric quality"


VPO/Solti (1986) / 2002 "incandescent performance . . . well-aerated sound that still has plenty of body . . . rare power and panache . . . bring[s] out the endless lyricism warmly and naturally . . . radiant playing . . . one of the crowning glories of Solti's long recording career"

Tristan und Isolde

BPO/Karajan (1972) / 1990 "sensual performance . . . caressingly beautiful and with superbly refined playing . . . crescendo[es] of supreme force . . . recording [is] warmly atmospheric . . . excellent first choice, with inspired conducting"
PHO/Furtwangler (1952 - mono) / 2001 "supreme triumph . . . incandescent intensity . . . spacious . . . but equally the bite and colour of the drama are vividly conveyed . . . recording was admirably balanced"
VPO/Solti 2003

Die Meistersinger

CSO/Solti (1995) / 2003
VPO/Solti (1976) / 2005 "bright and detailed sound . . . impressive achievement"

Der Ring des Nibelungen [4]

VPO/Solti (1959 / 1966 / 1963 / 1965) / 1997

Das Rheingold

"the first of Solti's cycle . . . remains in termas of engineering the most spectacular . . . the immediacy and precise placing of sound are thrilling . . . the sound remains of demonstration quality . . . Solti gives a magnificent reading of the score, crisp, dramatic, and direct . . . Much has been written on the quality of the recording, and without a shadow of a doubt it deserves the highest star rating . . . an outstanding achievement"

Die Walkure

"refined sound . . . lyrical"


"full brilliance and weight as well as extra clarity . . . buoyant performance . . . In the dramatic moments [Solti] could hardly be more impressive . . . a supreme achievement . . . masterly playing . . . likely to stand comparison with anything else the rest of the century may provide"


"inspired to heights even beyond earlier achievements . . . weight of sound . . . no more magnificent set has appeared in the whole history of the gramophone . . . remarkably little background noise"

[second choice of Ring cycle: Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Bohm (1967) / (Rheingold - 1990 / Walkure - 2002 / Siegfried - 1990 / Gotterdammerung - 1990) ]


BPO/Karajan (1980) / 1990 "Communion, musical and spiritual, is what this intensely beautiful Karajan set provides . . . playing . . . is consistently beautiful . . . the recording is near the atmospheric ideal, a superb achievement"
Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Knappertsbusch (1962) / 2001 "expansive and dedicated reading . . . intense concentration . . . spiritual quality . . . overall sound [is] warmly atmospheric"
VPO/Solti 2003 "powerful . . . vividness of sound and the Vienna Philharmonic in radiant form . . . sustained intensity"

(my favorite = *)

Rienzi Overture

VPO/Bohm (1979) / 1993* "striking life and vigour"
VPO/Solti (1962) / 1994
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "never any doubt that one is in the presence of a great conductor"

The Flying Dutchman Overture

VPO/Solti (1962) / 1994*
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "incandescent glow"
BPO/Karajan (1974) / 2005 "superbly played . . . urgency and edge"

Tannhauser Overture (original 1845 version)

VPO/Solti (1962) / 1994*
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002
BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2005 "broad and spacious . . . the voltage is consistently high . . . restrained nobility of feeling without any loss of power or impact"

Tannhauser: Prelude to Act III

PHO/Klemperer (1963) / 2002

Lohengrin: Prelude to Act I

VPO/Solti (1987) / 1994*
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "the Philharmonia plays immaculately"
BPO/Karajan (1974) / 2005

Lohengrin: Prelude to Act III

VPO/Bohm (1981) / 1993* "spacious"
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "no one could complain about the lack of zest"
BPO/Karajan (1974) / 2005

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude to Act I

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Bohm (1966) / 1993
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002
CSO/Solti (1978) / 2003* "very well played . . . warm . . . impressive ambience"

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude to Act III

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Bohm (1966) / 1993

Die Meistersinger: Prelude to Act I

VPO/Bohm (1979) / 1993* "the Vienna Philharmonic play beautifully . . . grandeur and detail . . . compulsive inevitability in forward flow"
VPO/Solti (1976) / 1994
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "full of German pudding"

Die Meistersinger: Prelude to Act III

VPO/Kempe (1972) / 1995*
RPO/Stokowski (1974) / 2004

Parsifal: Prelude to Act I

BAV/Jochum (1958) / 1993
VPO/Solti (1973) / 1994*
PHO/Klemperer (1963) / 2002 "superbly played"

(my favorite = *)

Tannhauser: Bacchanale / Venusberg Music

VPO/Solti (1962) / 1994

Tannhauser: Fest March

PHI/Ormandy 1989

Lohengrin: Bridal Chorus ("Here comes the bride")

BAV/Kubelik + Bavarian Radio Chorus (1971) / 2003

Tristan und Isolde: Liebestod [Love-Death]

VPO/Bohm (1981) / 1993* "spacious, with speeds broad rather than urgent"
CSO/Solti (1978) / 2003 "very well played . . . warm . . . impressive ambience"

Die Meistersinger: Dance of the Apprentices

PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "spacious . . . solidly concentrated"

Die Meistersinger: Entrance of the Meistersingers

PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "spacious . . . solidly concentrated"

Das Rheingold: Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla

(1963) / 2002 "spacious . . . playing is peerless"
VPO/Solti (1983) / 2003
LSO/Stokowski (1966) / 2005*

Die Walkure: Magic Fire Music

VPO/Solti (Hotter) (1966) / 2003
RPO/Stokowski (1974) / 2004
BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2005* "playing is of the finest quality"

Die Walkure: Ride of the Valkyries

BPO/Karajan (1967) / 1993
PHO/Klemperer (1963) / 2002 "spacious . . . playing is peerless"
LSO/Stokowski (1966) / 2005*

Die Walkure: Wotan's Farewell

BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2005* "the sense of spectacle is in no doubt"

Siegfried: Forest Murmurs

PHO/Klemperer (1963) / 2002 "no doubt that a great conductor is at the helm"
BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2005 "fine detail . . . atmospheric"
LSO/Stokowski (1966) / 2005*

Gotterdammerung: Siegfried's Rhine Journey

PHO/Klemperer (1963) / 2002 "spacious . . . solidly concentrated"
BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2005 "playing is of the highest quality . . . . high level of tension"
LSO/Stokowski (1966) / 2005*

Gotterdammerung: Siegfried's Death and Funeral Music

VPO/Solti (1965) / 1994
PHO/Klemperer (1960) / 2002 "no doubt that a great conductor is at the helm"
BPO/Tennstedt (1983) / 2005 "weight . . . climax has massive penetration"
LSO/Stokowski (1966) / 2005*

Gotterdammerung: Finale/Immolation of the Gods

CLE/Szell 1992
BPO/Karajan 1998
VPO/Solti (1983) / 2003*

Parsifal: Good Friday Music

BAV/Jochum (1958) / 1993* "inspirational . . . sounds spacious and full"
VPO/Kempe (1958) / 1995
DRE/Sinopoli 1998


Siegfried Idyll

BPO/Kubelik (1963) / 1993
VPO/Solti (1966) / 1994*
BPO/Karajan 1997 "unsurpassed"



PHO/Jarvi 1992
BPO/Karajan (1973) / "self-recommending . . . great style and refinement . . . the Berlin horn playing is peerless