13 Songs, 1 Hour 36 Minutes

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
1 Rating

1 Rating

KlingonOpera ,

Incredible Voice

Kirsten Flagstad had a career that lasted over three decades, and to understand why all you have to do is listen to this two CD set. The first disc consists of works by Richard Wagner, and my…oh… my does she own these pieces. From the very first notes of the Wesendonck-Lieder, it is obvious that she feels and understands this music. Her range is certainly displayed in the first track (Der Engel) which is just gorgeous and sensitively performed. Hard to do anything else when this is playing, as it is just captivating. The same is true for “Im Treibhaus” – it is just haunting. The second selection on this disc is from Tristan und Isolde, and Orchester der Stadtischen Oper Berlin is just incredible here. The sweeping strings and dynamic tension evident in the Vorspiel Zum Ersten Aufzug is just phenomenal, which is not something you can say about every 1952 recording, which is what this is – and even though it is mono, it sounds fantastic. And the depth of Ms. Flagstad’s performance in the “Isoldes Klage und Liebestod” just grabs you by the heartstrings and pulls.

The second disc features Strauss’ “Vier letzte Lieder” and Elektra, as well as more Wagner from Gotterdammerung. In the Strauss, particularly the second movement, Ms. Flagstad’s voice soars and flows over the melodic lines, and while it may indeed be the case that as a performer/actress she did not command attention as did some others of the time, her vocal abilities seem effortless and well-suited to the material here. In Elektra the power and sensitivity of her voice is evident, and beautifully accompanies the orchestral portion of the score. There are, unfortunately, one or two recording noises in this particular track, but they are few and far between. As for Brunhilde’s Schlussgesang from Gotterdammerung, it is everything you would expect from a strong classic opera performer from that time period – strong and energetic, bold and far-reaching…and a delightful match with the material and the intent behind it.

This recording from almost 60 years ago is evocative and uplifting, and for me is yet another of the “voices I wish I had heard in person”. If you enjoy recordings from yesteryear, and in particular the music of Wagner, then this recording is a must have. Very strongly recommended.