This recording was made just about a year before Solti and producer John Culshaw started on their now-legendary "Ring" recording for Decca. On this album, which might easily be regarded as a testing ground for the later project, the formidable Kirsten Flagstad takes the role of Brunnhilde. Flagstad was in her early 60's when this recording was made, but aside from a few slightly hollow-sounding notes, you'd never know it. Nobody could sing Wagner like this woman, and believe me, she really does SING this music. No shrieking, belting, or bellowing for Madame Flagstad -- just pure, rich, dark, tone: this is what Wagner singing is all about. Otto Edelman is disappointing here. He simply doesn't have the vocal heft or dark beauty of tone one expects from Wotan. He is always intelligent and musical, but there are better recorded Wotans. Marianne Schech may not have the loveliest voice, but she is dramatically alive here in her brief contribution as...
This cracking Act III of "Die Walkure" is usually dismissed as a "rehearsal" prior to the big recording of "The Ring" by Sir Georg and the Wiener Philharmoniker. This is too bad because as an "individual" performance, this is as good as it gets. We have the unique opportunity of hearing the legendary Kirsten Flagstad in one of her signature roles in full, glorious stereo sound. Nitpickers usually complain about her being 62 at the time of the recording and being way past her prime. Well I challenge anybody, bar on the occasional high note (probably twice in the whole Act), to assert that this is a voice past her prime. 40 year-old would-be Wagnerian sopranos would die to sing the part like this. So let us be silent and listen to goddess Kirsten in pure awe, please. This set is also very welcome for the still very committed and enchanting Sieglinde of Marianne Schech, 10 years after her first Sieglinde with Solti in Munich (Act I published by ORFEO, I also reviewed it). Otto Edelmann...
Kirsten Flagstad not only has a enormous voice, her voice is very beautiful. She is amazing down here. She can hold her breath like no one else can!! There's one passage here where she holds and holds her breath and that is so thrilling. I compared it with Birgit Nilsson's passage on the Solti set. Birgit Nilsson only held the note for a short time. The effect is very different. Flagstad makes it very thrilling. I also recommend Act 1 Walkure unde Knappertbusch 1957 with Decca in superb Decca stereo. Flagstad sings Sieglinde in that recording. Although "matronly", she sings absolutely gorgeously and it's worth owning just to hear her beautiful voice.
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