Kirsten Flagstad;  Georges Sebastian        (2-Audite 23.416)
Item# V1758
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Kirsten Flagstad;  Georges Sebastian        (2-Audite 23.416)
V1758. KIRSTEN FLAGSTAD, w.Georges Sébastian Cond. Städtischen Oper Berlin Orch.: Vier letzte Lieder – Nos. 3, 2 & 4; Elektra – Monolog (both Strauss); Wesendonck Lieder; Tristan – Narrative & Curse; Liebestod; Götterdämmerung – Brünnhilde’s Immolation (all Wagner). (Germany) 2-Audite 23.416, Live Performances, 9 & 11 May, 1952, Berlin. Final Sealed Copy! - 4022143234162


“These recordings were made in May, 1952, by RIAS broadcast engineers….The magnetic tapes have been lovingly restored and edited by Audite’s technicians with excellent results, sonically clear, undistorted, and noiseless. This is an invaluable documentation of Flagstad’s art.”

- John P. McKelvey, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2011

“More remarkable historic releases come in some two-CD sets from the label Audite, well-known for its superb remastering of original tapes from German broadcast companies (especially RIAS Berlin). Admirers of Kirsten Flagstad will treasure recordings from two concerts that the great soprano gave at the Berlin Titania-Palast in May 1952, the year before she retired from the stage. Accompanied by the Orchestra of the Municipal Opera conducted by Georges Sébastian she sings songs by Wagner and Strauss, with a voice still undamaged by age and the stress of a career that lasted for some four decades.”

- Norbert Hornig, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Autumn, 2010

“These recordings were made on 9 and 11 May 1952 and document the latter part of Kirsten Flagstad’s career. They were made a few weeks before her 57th birthday, thus at a time when most sopranos will have been forced to move into ‘character fach’, the Norwegian soprano however, was still in almost full command of her incomparably rich voice, even after a demanding career spanning over three decades. These recordings of two concerts given at the Berlin Titania-Palast, with the Orchestra of the Municipal Opera, are particularly noteworthy: on the one hand, the Wagner songs sound fresher and more ‘present’ than in the recording made four years later under Knappertsbusch; on the other, the Berlin live-recording of the Strauss songs is technically far superior to the recording made in London. In May 1950 Kirsten Flagstad had given the first performance of the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss, at the request of the composer. A tribute to her unique status was also the multitude of her concert engagements: During the course of her career, she sang more than 80 roles in around 2100 performances and also gave approximately 250 concerts with orchestra and 600 recitals.”

- Jürgen Kesting

“Audite's historic archive releases enjoy an excellent reputation worldwide. The high quality of their content is due to their long-term cooperation with radio archives, permitting a continuous exploration of archive collections. The high sound quality of the releases is achieved by using only original tapes from these archives. Audite acquires licences from the broadcasting companies even for public domain archive recordings. In addition, there is the process of re-mastering using numerous new technological post-production possibilities to achieve optimal sound quality while, at all times, remaining faithful to the principles of historical documentation. Only those productions which fulfil all these criteria are labelled with Audite's seal of quality, ‘1st Master Release - Original Tapes’. Audite is, in every aspect, oriented towards high quality.”

- Audite

“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