Kirsten Flagstad: Great Artists of the Century = WAGNER: Wesendonck Lieder; Tannhauser: Allmacht&Mac226; ge Jungfrau; Siegfried: Ewig war ich; Gotterdammerung: Brunnhilde&Mac226;s Immolation; Tristan und Isolde: Doch nun von Tristan?; Mild und leise

by | May 15, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Kirsten Flagstad: Great Artists of the Century = WAGNER: Wesendonck
Lieder; Tannhauser: Allmacht&Mac226; ge Jungfrau; Siegfried: Ewig
war ich; Gotterdammerung: Brunnhilde&Mac226;s Immolation; Tristan
und Isolde: Doch nun von Tristan?; Mild und leise

Gerald Moore, piano (Wesendonck) Set Svanholm, tenor (Siegfried);
Elisabeth Hoengen, soprano (Isolde&Mac226;s Narrative) Wilhelm
Furtwaengler conducts Philharmonia Orchestra (Brunnhilde&Mac226;s
Immolation) Issay Dobrowen conducts Philharmonia Orchestra (Tannhuaser,
Tristan) George Sebastian conducts Philharmonia Orchestra (Ewig war ich)

EMI 7243 5 62957 2 75:04****:

With the exception of the Siegfried excerpt (1951), these recordings by
the great Wagnerian helden-soprano Kirsten Flagsten (1895-1962) date
from 1948, when her voice still had solid intonation and projection, as
well as suave flexibility of line. The upper range is a bit tight and
strained, but Flagstad’s maturity of characterization compensates for
the few vocal liabilities of her late career. The coveted excerpt in
this collation will be the oft-recycled Starke Scheite schichtet mir
dort from Gotterdammerung, Act III, with the legendary conductor
Wilhelm Furtwaengler. The virtually seamless intensities of the scene,
in which Brunnhilde directs the building of Siegfried’s funeral pyre,
assumes the wearing of the fatal ring, and directs her horse Grane to
hurl itself forward, with Brunnhilde mounted, upon the blazing funeral
fire, has all the vivid passions of a sacred mystery.

Another grand collaboration is with the under-represented conductor
Issay Dobrowen, whose legacy in the music of Beethoven, Moussorgsky,
and Rimsky-Korsakov has yet to return to CD format, but whose work in
Tristan has a tender and propulsive melancholy. Set Svanholm shines in
his duet from Siegfried, as does Elisabeth Hoengen, who sang so
powerfully for Horenstein in the Vox Beethoven Ninth. As ever,
Flagstad’s tone is massive, her diction rounded and sensual, especially
in the Twilight of the Gods and Tristan excerpts. The opening set of
Wesendonck songs, with Gerald Moore, show off Flagstad’s late bloom in
the world of art-song, with Traume enjoying an autumnal glow of
intimate power. If this is a music lover’s entry into the precincts
inhabited by Kirsten Flagstad, it is as good an initiation as any.

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