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Subject: Re: Late Flagstad recordings
From: Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 4 Dec 2016 07:51:15 -0500

text/plain (87 lines)


Here is the Flagstad recital on Amazon for a reasonable price.

It seems to me Barbara Cook was an occasional poster here on Opera
L...unless it was some uber fan who took her for a screen name...


On Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 10:15 PM, Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Glad to find out about the Harmonia Mundi release of the Champs Elysée
> concert.  Didn’t know about that.
> Many sopranos lose higher notes when they age (some don’t) but I don’t
> think very many take on the incredible depth and fullness of sound that
> Flagstad did in her lower and middle voice.  She liked singing in that
> range after WWII, but not many could do it as convincingly as she could.
> Of those Decca recordings, I particularly like the Wesendonck songs with
> Knappertsbusch from Vienna and the Sibelius Songs with Fjeldstad done with
> lovely London Symphony playing and beautiful Kingsway Hall sound.  In the
> striking  “Höstkväll” she doesn’t take the high C option, but she lets out
> a rock solid and huge B-flat.
> I also adore Barbara Cook.  In around 1959, when I was 6, my parents
> bought their first “console” stereo and a few stereo records to play on
> it.  One was the original cast “The Music Man” and even as a young kid I
> loved her voice and singing.  I also instinctively grasped the piquant
> contrast of her perfect singing vs. Robert Preston’s rougher Sprechstimme
> as something similar to what we heard with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison
> in “My Fair Lady” (another record my parents had).
> Max Paley
> On Dec 2, 2016, at 2:45 PM, Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Late Flagstad is like Late Rembrandt - an essential and aesthetically
> fulfilling summation of a remarkable continuum. The unique beauty of
> timbre and the grounding of her technique was as evident in her 1914
> recordings as it was those last Decca's   As Les notes there was the
> inevitable downward shift, but the voice as well as her expert navigation
> of its natural wonders remained true to itself through her later years.  As
> difficult as it might have been to capture that "Niagara" of sound when it
> was heard live, I think the Harmonia Mundi release of her '53 concert at
> the Theatre des Champs Elysees does what all the EMI / Decca engineers
> hoped to recreate.
> The only singer I can think of to match Flagstad's ability to satisfy and
> inspire over a comparable span of time is Barbara Cook.   In fact, Barbara
> Cook into her late '70s simply shakes her fist at the passage of time and
> like Flagstad produces deeply satisfying interpretations that are not only
> musically gorgeous but remain true to a remarkable talent in its prime.  If
> you compare Ms. Cook's "Mostly Sondheim" from 2001 with "Flahooley" her
> 1951 recording debut (? - if there is anything earlier, I want it...) like
> Flagstad, the "young" voice and the "mature" voice remain in perfect
> harmony, but the colors have gotten richer and deeper.
> Nothing sums up these remarkable ladies better than the following from
> Sondheim's "Merrily we roll along:"
> But it only gets better and stronger
> And deeper and nearer
> And simpler and freer
> And richer and clearer
> Steve

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