Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:


1 Interview with KF, Montreal 1950
2 Blow the wind southerly 1949
3 The Keel Row 1949
4 Down by the Sally Gardens 1949
5 Ma Bonny Lad 1949
6 Ca' The Yowes 1950
7 Der Musensohn - Schubert 1949
8 An die Musik - Schubert 1949
9 Die junge Nonne - Schubert 1947
10 Gretchen am Spinnrade - Schubert 1947
11 Volksliedchen -Schumann 1950
12 Widmung - Schumann 1950
13 Grief for Sin - Bach 1948
14 Have mercy, Lord - Bach 1946
15 Ah tarry yet, my dearest Saviour - Bach 1949
16 What is Life? - Gluck 1946
17 Ombra mai fu - Handel 1949
18 Art thou troubled? - Handel 1946
19 Fac ut portem - Pergolesi 1946
20 Woe unto them - Mendelssohn 1946
21 O rest in the Lord - Mendelssohn 1946
22 Silent night 1948

Recorded 1946-1950
REGIS RRC 1057 [78.05]
Available for around £6 from your retailer

There is a generous supply of 22 tracks of the incomparable Ferrier whose voice never fails to melt this reviewer's heart (nor the blackbird in the tree outside my open window apparently), whether she is singing folksong, Lieder, oratorio or opera - all of which forms are covered on this disc. It starts with a short interview given to a Canadian radio station, rather stilted, but her speaking voice (with no discernible trace of her Blackburn/Lancashire accent) has a wonderful timbre with that 1950s way of careful enunciation. Ferrier's career lasted a tragically brief time before her death from breast cancer in October 1953, barely ten years in fact. Her audition with the London agents Ibbs and Tillett on 9 July 1942 at Sargent's recommendation after she sang for him in a Manchester hotel a few months before, was the trigger for a packed concert schedule which took her all over the world, but made her a special favourite in Britain. She was the antithesis of what Barbirolli, in a thinly disguised reference to Clara Butt, once termed the 'oratorio contralto - that queer and almost bovine monstrosity so beloved of our grandfathers'. Yet her voice was distinctive and no one has come near it in quality since. She does in fact form her own idiosyncratic link between Butt and Janet Baker.

Her folksongs which fill five of the first six tracks are magical, with impeccable diction and perfect sense of style. 'Blow the Wind Southerly', an especial favourite for the BBC Home Service's Housewife's Choice request programme of gramophone records, epitomises both the singing and the immediate post-war era. In Lieder her German is excellent, especially in Schubert's songs accompanied sensitively by Phyllis Spurr. Of the oratorio tracks it is Bach and Mendelssohn in which she excels - the violin solo in Sargent's orchestral accompaniment to 'Have mercy, Lord, on me' sweetly played and exquisitely phrased in a style more reminiscent of the 19th than 20th centuries. 'Klever Kaff', as she called herself, lived up to her name. She was 25 years old when she won the Carlisle singing competition that brought her initially in a small way to the attention of the music profession, and when she had tasted the sweet smell of success she remained a modest, noble human being to the end of her short life. Although all these tracks are familiar fare from LP days and thereafter, it would be even better to hear the many radio recordings from around the globe which have surfaced during the years since her death. But for those unfortunate to be unfamiliar with the voice of Kathleen Ferrier, this disc is a fine introduction.

Christopher Fifield

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