Friday, August 23, 2013
You'll All Hate Me in a Minute.
Or at least doubt my judgment.
Several NY Times classical music writers, and Alex Ross in response to those writers, have posted lists of favorite Wagner recordings. Not quite universally on the lists is Furtwängler's Tristan und Isolde.
I'm going to have to give it another listen, because that recording heads up a personal list of my own: Most Overrated Recordings of the Century.
I don't care that it's in mono. I care a lot about the fact that its Isolde, the great Kirsten Flagstad, is significantly diminished from even two years before on Furtwängler's La Scala Ring. She is a shadow of what she sounded like in the 1930s.
I don't care about the Cs that Elizabeth Schwarzkopf sang for her (and, IMO, the Bs as well). I do care that Flagstad sounds thick-voiced and matronly, placid and without the kind of subtlety that might make one forget the losses.
For me, this is what keeps the recording off my list of favorite Wagner recordings. To see why, compare the Flagstad of 1952 with the Flagstad of 1935 (or 1936 or...).