The sound here is pretty bad, and while everyone knows that Flagstad had a magnificent vocal endowment, the sound on this aircheck does her no favors. Besides, I think that her huge voice was probably unsuited to these songs anyway. The voice is heavy..very heavy, and she also omits, or rather, dodges a high B flat in the first song, possibly because of her growing fear of climatic top notes, and possibly because Strauss allows the soprano the option of taking the top note or omitting it. All subsequent sopranos have chosen to take the note. Flagstad does not, which makes the line seem somewhat deficient. Perhaps a complete performance of these four songs by Flagstad on a studio recording would be highly desirable, but maybe not. The sheer massive sound of her voice would be overkill. Flagstad's great successor, and probable equal - Birgit Nilsson, never sang these songs. She was a smart lady. Her voice would have proven no more suitable than Flagstad's. What is called for in these songs is a lyric or lyric spinto who can "float" a musical line. For me, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was ideal in this music. But this live performance was the world premiere of the songs, and Flagstad was the most famous soprano in the world at that time. The sound is not at all even satisfactory - tons of surface noise, limited dynamics, etc. The only reason I can find to own this disc is to either be a real "collector" or a
Flagstad fanatic. I am somewhat a combination of both, but I still do not find this to be a satisfactory listening experience.