Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:


Das Lied von der Erde
3 Rückert-Lieder: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, Ich atmet' einen linden Duft, Um Mitternacht

Kathleen Ferrier (contralto), Julius Patzak (tenor)* Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Bruno Walter
Decca 466 576-2 [76' 02"] Recorded in 1952

Rather than try to find something new to say about this famous recording, I just want to make a few reflections. Is it possible to ignore, while listening, a whole series of outside factors? Mahler obsessed with death and clinging to the life he loved, Mahler's pupil Bruno Walter enjoying a rare opportunity to conduct a major work by the master whose work he passionately propagated whenever he could (do younger listeners even realise how seldom this work was played in those days?), on an almost equally rare post-war return to his beloved Vienna Philharmonic, and with his protégé Kathleen Ferrier, who he had patiently guided to became a great lieder singer, in the full flower of her stupendous voice? And above all, Ferrier herself, just turned 40 yet singing the Abschied in full awareness that her own days were numbered (she died the following year)? And if we could put all this on one side, would it be right to do so? For all these factors converge to make this not just a record, not just a performance, nor even just a document, but a magic moment in time, mercifully preserved for us. So get it if you don't have it already, but don't spoil it by listening to it too often, choose a good modern version for everyday use and take this out from time to time to remind yourself that these moments really happen. Oh, and I nearly forget to say that Patzak is excellent and the recording, if a little shallow, is incredibly good for its age.

Christopher Howell




In its original full-price CD issue these recording came over as noisy and almost abrasive in terms of tape hiss and extraneous noises. This reissue, like the companion Lisa Della Casa Strauss recording, has been handled more sympathetically resulting in a huge advance sonically. For those who have the originally this is well worth athe modest extra outlay.

Len Mullenger

This reissue represents a perceptible step forward from the version previously available.

The character of the sound is different, the most immediately noticeable feature being the reduction, albeit not the elimination , of hiss.

The price paid may be felt by some to be a slight loss of presence and life, however, the ear quickly adjusts and to this listener the new version is a far more comfortable experience.

David Dyer

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