OP2801. GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG - Act III, Broadcast Performance, 31 May, 1952, w.Furtwängler Cond. RAI Ensemble, Roma; Ludwig Suthaus, Kirsten Flagstad, Hilde Konetzni, Josef Hermann, Josef Greindl, etc. (E.U.) Myto 00223. - 801439902237
“Pride of place in this column belongs to the greatest Wagnerian soprano of the 20th century (and probably the 19th as well), Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962). Flagstad made her début at the age of 18 in her native Norway, but her voice developed slowly and she sang mostly light roles in operettas and musical comedies and only in Scandinavia until 1932. By then her voice had greatly deepened and her artistry matured, and her late entry onto the world's stages was spectacular. By the late 1930s, when I first heard her live at the Met, she was internationally famous, but her reputation suffered during WWII, when she was made suspect by her husband's association with the Norwegian Nazis, and it took some time before she was welcomed back to recital stages in the U.S. and elsewhere.
She was a shy, self-contained woman who looked and behaved like a simple hausfrau; she refused to be a prima donna and always insisted her greatest desire was to retire to Norway and spend her life with her husband and children. Watching her knitting placidly or playing solitaire in the wings before she went on stage, observers often wondered whether she really understood what she was doing out there as Brünnhilde or Isolde. The answer was in her performances and is on these discs, in which astounding vocal beauty is combined with great passion and musical insight in deeply felt and deeply moving performances. Hearing her powerful, pure, golden tones ring out effortlessly above the loudest orchestral sound is one of the most electrifying vocal experiences you will encounter. If her characterizations often seemed more stately and restrained than vivid, she made up for it by her musical intelligence, her impeccable intonation and diction, her perfect breath control (which enabled her to produce flawless legato lines), and the radiance, brilliance, ease, and intoxicating beauty of her singing.”
- Alexander J. Morin, Classical.Net
“Ludwig Suthaus was one of the most important heldentenors in the 1930-51 era. His baritone-based voice was one of great power coupled with sensitivity to text and music. He was able to scale his operatic voice down to the simplicity of a lieder recital. He could produce a warmth of color with ease. Brilliant high notes were also part of his vocal arsenal….A very different aspect of Suthaus’ art is heard in a lieder recital from the Moscow conservatory, 12 October, 1955….For anyone who knows Suthaus’ singing from his Wagner recordings…this recital will be a revelation. Not only is the voice scaled down to quite delicate, but an amazing reading of the text informs each of the selections.”
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2007