Friday, August 04, 2006

A era or two ago

Does the death of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf have, as Maury suggests, some of the passing of an era in it? Not, surely, that sonic era of postwar Vienna (which, if it survives as a person, has been near Bern for ages). Schwarzkopf's virtues were not theirs.

Perhaps her phenomenon (as opposed to her work itself, which one could hear and see and is more or less representatively preserved for current judgment) is most interesting as a sort of high-tide for the critic, particularly the London variety. Presence and looks she had, for sure, but these alone did not make hers a name to which one could safely attach any praise or expect non-musical people to recognize, nor let, e.g., her hilariously misjudged Schubert disc be taken seriously.

But that's probably a step more than is necessary: was she not simply the first ubiquitous singer of the LP era, as Pavarotti and Domingo have been in CD times? Ah, the days when people believed in studio recordings!

She was neither the last, nor the greatest, but she was for a while the most praised. That is something.


  1. Studio recordings are the devil. I can only think of about three I care about and the rest should be cast into the ocean. According to me, anyway.

  2. Is this your understated way of saying she's overrated? Or overexposed? Or both?

  3. To the extent I'm saying anything more than what's written, it's that Lisa della Casa and Sena Jurinac are underrated and underexposed.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.