Some years ago, I asked Alex Stepanov what his favorite Ring was, and to my surprise, he named Marek Janowski's. I had heard this performance in the early/mid 1980s because one of my housemates owned it, but I was not any kind of judge of singing or Wagner performances then.
Alex's recommendation stuck in my head, and when the Janowski was re-released by RCA a couple of years back I picked up a copy, for all of $80. It seemed a bargain to me; among other things, I paid only $20 more than I would have paid for a single opera in the outrageously-priced Testament set conducted by Keilberth.
It took some time for me to listen through the Janowski, and I'm sorry I didn't blog it at the time. The cycle gets off to a slowish start; with a comparatively anonymous Rheingold and a Walkuere first act that needs more impetuousness. (That said, it's still one of the best-sung recorded versions of Act I, with Jerusalem, Moll, and Norman.) Then it picks up, and it's a really fine performance up to the very end. The biggest problem is Theo Adam's barky, scrawny Wotan, and that is certainly a big problem. Everyone else sings well, some much better than that. Jeanine Altmeyer is a terrific Bruennhilde; no, she doesn't have the Nilsson trumpet in her throat, but she has a beautiful voice and is one of the most interesting and expressive Valkyries on record. Peter Schreier's Mime has to be heard, as well.
I found out today that Berkshire Record Outlet has the Janowski for all of $42. Get yourself a copy; you won't regret it.