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Strauss - Four Last Songs (World Première) [Import]

Philharmonia Orchestra , Richard Strauss , Richard Wagner , Wilhelm Furtwängler , Kirsten Flagstad Audio CD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £12.73 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Performer: Kirsten Flagstad
  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler
  • Composer: Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner
  • Audio CD (5 Mar 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Testament
  • ASIN: B000O59Z0C
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,853 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Beim Schlafengehen
2. September
3. Fruehling
4. Im Abendrot
5. Prelude
6. Mild und leise wie er laechelt
7. Dawn and Siegfried's Rhine Journey (Prologue)
8. Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort...

Product Description

Strauss : 4 derniers Lieder - Wagner : Prélude & Mort d'Isolde (Tristan & Isolde) - Prologue "Voyage de Siegfried sur le Rhin" et Scène finale de l'Acte 3 (Crépuscule des Dieux) / Kirsten Flagstad, sop. - Philharmonia Orchestra - Dir. Wilhelm Furtwängler

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime 26 May 2007
I bought this today having heard a review on BBC Radio 3. I had heard about this recording many years ago and had always hoped too at least hear it. I have 5 or 6 versions of the Four Last Songs and get something from all of them. But this is very special, the singing is sublime as is the orchestral playing. The sound, considering that the source is of poor quality, is excellent. Flagstad's voice soars above the orchestra and she is totally immersed in the songs. The Wagner pieces are equally good. Concerts like this come along every now and again and I am so glad that a recording was made. Thanks to Testament, they have done a great job of restoring this performance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars irreplaceable 11 April 2013
Verified Purchase
The sound is aweful, but the Immolation scene is totally fab.
The geatest Wagner in my substantial collection.
Austen Biss
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 4 last songs 25 Nov 2010
By george
I have long wanted the 4 last songs premier to add to my collection,but I cannot recommend thisversion.This was a live recording on very primitive equipment,the end result being virtually unlistenable.Fortunately,even this recording cannot hide the glorious Flagstad voice completely. Pity it couldn't have been edited before transfering it to C D
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written for Flagstad 22 Feb 2008
By Dag Kyndel - Published on Amazon.com
I must correct a few things here:
1)These songs were dedicated by Richard Strauss to Mme Flagstad. That surely means that he had her or at least a heavy soprano voice in mind.
2) The sound in "Four Last Songs" on Testament is better than in earlier pirated LP editions. There you could barely hear the singer's voice at all.
3) The record company Audite has just released a live recording of these songs with Flagstad in very good sound. The recording is taken from a concert i Berlin, 1952. We only get three of the four songs because the top notes in "Im Frühling¨" no longer was within Mme Flagstad's voice. But the other three are sung in a very heartfelt manner.
4) Birgit Nilsson sang these songs and have also recorded them for Bluebell Records - one of the best versions I have heard, she seems deeply involved.
5) For me the best version ever comes from Elisabeth Söderström/Richard Armstrong on EMI, nla - please EMI, a CD reissue!
(The only CD incarnation - and for a short time only - was to be seen on EMI France, 1998).
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the very best performances despite the bad sound 8 Jan 2010
By Erik Aleksander Moe - Published on Amazon.com
I have 10 recordings of the wonderful four last songs that Richard Strauss and I must say that I rate this record at the very top along with Renee Fleming's 1994 recording. Jessye Norman's wonderfully exciting recording is also at the top.
I come to this recording again and again when I want to hear the songs mainly because of Flagstad's beautiful singing. I also have her Berlin performance from 1952 where so omitted "Beim Schlafengehen" and she sang a cut "Im Abendroth" (where, strangely, the title was among the sections that was cut). Her wonderfully beautiful tone is very evident throughout all the songs. She is able to soar above the orchestra as few lyric sopranos can when performing it live. I also have the stereo recording by Schwarzkopf, but her mannerisms ruins the whole experience. I get no emotion from her at all. When hearing Flagstad in this recording you can hear every emotion in every note.
I am a Flagstad nut so my review may be biased but I cannot help myself but to think this way when hearing the greatest voice of the 20th century.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FLAGSTAD THE MAGNIFICENT 21 Dec 2007
By Stanislaw Bragiel - Published on Amazon.com
I wonder if the reviewers above have ever considered that Richard Strauss may have in fact wanted this kind of heavier voice rather than the lighter ones commonly used today. Sure the recordings sound wonderful and the Schwarzkopf recording is lovely to listen to BUT I wonder whether how well her voice would have managed over the heavy orchestration.

There is a live Salzburg 1964 recording with Schwarzkopf and Karajan and the voice sounds a bit thin. There are some recordings of Flagstad in Berlin which are much much better and after a number of listening one begins to reject the lighter voices.

Some years ago I heard an American Soprano singing the Last 4 Songs in Melbourne and she couldn't be heard fifteen rows back in the stalls - obviously the orchestration requires a heavier voice and not just being able to sing the "notes". Lisa della Casa, Janowitz and perhaps at a pinch Norman are other versions are worth listening to. Not just the recording quality but the interpretation!!!! Thats what Strauss wanted.
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars AS A MOMENTO ONLY! 28 Oct 2007
By L. Mitnick - Published on Amazon.com
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.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A legendary premiere, but there are problems 10 Oct 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Most listeners will immediately run away after hearing the brief samples offered at Amazon -- this legendary premiere of Strauss's Four Last Songs from a concert at Royal Albert Hall in 1950 sounds dismally dim and scratchy. It barely reaches acceptability even for historical buffs. By modern standards Flagstad sounds too heavy, also, her dramatic soprano pulling the music earthward when it wants to soar. Intonation occasionally suffers, whether due to the singer or the aircheck shellacs, I can't tell.

Furtwangler's tempos are consistently measured, which fights against any possibility that Strauss's melodic lines will lift off. These are two great artists, of course, so the historical value of this Tewstament reissue -- filled out with authoritative Wagner excerpts from the same concert -- is consierable. That said, the crudeness of the sound robbed it of pleasure for me. If you've heard earlier versions on pirate labels and hoped that this remastering would be a revelation, it isn't.
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