by Michael Tumelty, The Glasgow Herald
Naxos has fashioned two superbly useful products out of all this. Both feature the writer and broadcaster Stephen Johnson, who, for many, is the authoritative British voice of classical music (pace James Naughtie and Charles Hazlewood).
For Naxos Books, Johnson has produced a superb, broad introduction to Wagner that has a readable contemporary relevance, covers all the operas, touches on all the raw spots where this most controversial of composers is concerned, and comes equipped not only with two packed Cds drawing on the full Wagner output but also with a link to a dedicated website that contains myriad tributaries of music and information. It’s at once comprehensive and wholly accessible to the lay Wagnerian.
If, on the other hand, The Ring is your target of interest, and you’re happy for other people to do as much for you as possible, then Johnson has also written, and reads in his distinctive, chocolatey voice, An Introduction to the Ring of the Nibelung. This is a double CD in the series of Naxos Audio Books, which does great business.”