The contents of this CD give a very good overview of the brief recording
career of Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953). In fact the 21 tracks
are all so well known as to make detailed comment almost superfluous.
Ferrier’s was not the most agile of voices. The tempo for the duet
‘I Would that My Love’is a trifle staid,
for example. However, hear her in music that spins a long legato
line, such as the two gorgeous Brahms songs or the Gluck item
from which the album takes its name, and the incomparable richness
of tone comes into its own. ‘Blow the Wind Southerly’ is just
one of several tracks that have passed into recorded legend.
Its inclusion here is as welcome as it is inevitable.
Several of her musical partnerships are celebrated here. The Mahler
songs with Bruno Walter have attained classic status. We hear
her also with Gerald Moore, doyen of accompanists. The name
of Phyllis Spurr is nowhere near as well known as is Moore’s but judged by what we hear in this compilation she was a very reliable
colleague with whom Ferrier enjoyed working. They combine to
excellent effect - the Quilter song is a delight. Some of the
tempi sound a bit pedestrian by the standards of today but the
quality of the voice and the conviction of the singing overcome
any such quibbles.
By and large the transfers, all but four from Decca recordings, have been successfully managed though there is
a fleeting moment of distortion in the first of the Brahms songs
(track 12). No texts or translations are provided. However,
with the exception of the pairs of lieder by Brahms, Schubert
and Mahler, all the items are sung in English so for English-speaking
listeners this is probably not an issue.
For anyone who is coming afresh to Ferrier’s art I would say that this
disc offers an ideal introduction to one of the most individual
singing voices of the twentieth century. For collectors wishing
to fill gaps in their collections this is an ideally inexpensive
way to do so. In summary this disc offers eighty minutes of
great enjoyment and is warmly recommended.