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Grieg Beethoven Weber - Wagner

Kirsten Flagstad soprano with Edwin McArthur piano
The Philadelphia Orchestra - cond Eugene Ormandy

Naxos Historical - 8.110925 [80 minutes - Recorded October 1937 & August 1940]


Grieg: Haugtussa Op.67

Beethoven: Ah perfido! Op.65; Fidelio: Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin? Op.72

Weber: Oberon: Ozean, du Ungeheur

Wagner: Lohengrin: Euch Luften, die mein Klagen; Die Walkure: Du bist der Lenz ; Gotterdammerung: Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort



Kirsten Flagstad was a singer whose career was allowed to grow slowly and virtually un-noticed, but in 1935, at the age of 40, she made her debut at New York 's Metropolitan Opera and took the operatic world by storm. These recordings were made shortly afterwards and as well as showing her voice at its finest, demonstrate the range of music in which she excelled.


What a voice it is too its power is immediately obvious, but it is her finesse and control and sheer musicianship that finally impress most.


The recital begins modestly enough with Grieg's song cycle Haugtusse (The Mountain Maid) set to the idyllic poems of Arne Garborg. The tale of a superstitious young goat-girl, wooed and abandoned by a young shepherd, is interspersed by descriptions or the mountain scenery.


Beethoven's Ah perfido is set to words by Metastasio and runs the full gamut of emotions, and is well followed by Leonora's avowal of faith.


Perhaps the most unusual extract is that from Weber's Oberon . Rezia was to be one of Flagtsad's last new stage roles, but this aria was included in her concert repertoire much earlier on. It describes graphically a storm at sea ending in a last minute dramatic rescue.


No Flagstad compendium would be complete without Wagner and here there is a nice progression of three heroines: Elsa's simple joy at her approaching marriage, Sieglinde's expression of love for her twin brother, and finally Brunnhilde singing at Siegriied's funeral pyre.


The sound restorations were made by Mark Obert-Thorn and the result is remarkably fresh and vibrant.


Naxos follows their normal practice in providing neither texts nor translations a distinct disadvantage to an otherwise excellent issue.


Serena Fenwick


Note: - - again lack of texts a problem.  Emily Ezust has the Grieg, and I was very thankful that I have a recording of Oberon which includes libretto.  SF