When Flagstad, Kirsten signed a contract with Decca she was already past sixty but her voice was still intact. She had the experience and stamina to carry through a comprehensive recording schedule during the next few years. For EMI she had set down Tristan und Isolde under Furtwängler and Dido and Aeneas under Geraint Jones. Now came - also with Jones - Gluck’s Alceste. Somewhat later she took the role as Fricka in Solti’s Das Rheingold, the first instalment in the first complete Ring des Nibelungen. Under Solti she recorded the third act of Die Walküre and the first act under Knappertsbusch. Decca also wanted her to set down act II, but Flagstad was reluctant and in the end she only recorded the Todesverkündigung with Solti and her long-time partner Set Svanholm. All these recordings and a great number of song recitals are now being reissued by Eloquence on fifteen CDs. In due time I will report on the total oeuvre.
These recordings of the two outer acts of Die Walküre are interesting also for the conductors’ views, since we here meet two great Wagnerians with almost diametrically opposite attitudes. Knappertsbusch was the great epic master, shaping long arcs of continuity and stressing the inherent beauty of the music; Solti was the dramatic, often stressing the thrill and intensity of the moment. The openings of the two acts are instructive - and also well suited to the two conductors’ temperaments. The act I prelude is no doubt dramatic in its dark menace, but it is also a kind of story-telling. Wagner paints the scene: outside a terrible storm, within Siegmund, exhausted and with throbbing heart - not only for running to seek shelter from the storm but also from as yet unknown pursuers. This is well depicted in Kna’s reading. He also draws glowing playing from the VPO strings, alternately urging them on and holding back. The cello solo before Siegmund’s Kühlende Labung has rarely been so beautifully restrained. But beautiful as most of the act is, it seems that there is some lack of adrenaline. (Music Web - utdrag)
Wagner, Richard (1813 - 1883)
Die Walküre - Acts I and III
Act I [63:05]
Act III [71:08]
rec. Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, 13-17 May 1957 (Act III); Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, October 1957 (Act I)