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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



CD+DVD REVIEW

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Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953)
A Life in Music (CD) [77.47]
Blow the wind southerly (1949) [2.22]
Che faro senza Euridice (Gluck) (1947) [3.17]
Art thou troubled? (Handel) (1946) [4.39]
Ombra mai fu (1948) [4.38]
Ma bonny lad (1949) [1.52]
An die Musik (Schubert) (1949) [3.06]
Down by the Salley Gardens (1949) [3.06]
O rest in the Lord (Mendelssohn) (1946) [3.37]
Go not, happy day (1952) [1.34]
Have mercy, Lord on me (Bach) (1946) [8.10]
Drink to me only (1951) [2.59]
Sapphische Ode (Brahms) (1949) [2.47]
Er, der herrlichste von allen (Schumann) (1950) [3.18]
Ye banks and braes (1951) [3.10]
Bist du bei mir (Bach) (1950) [3.31]
Now sleeps the crimson petal (1951) [2.29]
The fair house of joy (1951) [2.38]
To daisies (1951) [2.12]
Over the mountains (1951) [2.11]
Der Vollmond (Schubert) (1949) [3.51]
I know where I’m going (1951) [2.21]
What is life? (1946) [4.26]
Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Phyllis Spurr, John Newmark, Bruno Walter, Frederick Stone (piano)
Fritz Stiedry, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Boyd Neel (conductor)
Recorded by Decca 1946-1952
An Ordinary Diva DVD (2004) [58.38]
Kathleen Ferrier – an ordinary diva [7.35]
Mrs Wilson [4.29]
Carlisle to Covent Garden in five years [13.44]
Yours till hell freezes over [4.02]
Whoopee! [11.38]
Aren’t I lucky [3.25]
Hell! Hell! Hell! [13.45]
Picture gallery
Decca discography
Original Decca record covers
Original Decca recording cards
Director: Suzanne Phillips
Menu screens: English
Video aspect ratio : 16:9 Anamorphic
Region Code : NTSC 123456
Disc format DVD 5
UCJ 4801915 [77:47 + 58:38 ] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


For Ferrier lovers, of whom there are inestimable numbers, it will come as no surprise that there is nothing new here in the way of recorded material. It’s familiar Decca fare with her singing from the Baroque repertoire: Bach, Handel and Gluck, Lieder by Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, and plenty of folksongs, and British music by Bridge and Quilter. She was always admirably accompanied, particularly by John Newmark, who excelled in the German Lied, and by ‘fingers of steel’ Phyllis Spurr. Kapellmeister-style (lashings of pedal) accompaniment is supplied by Bruno Walter, but there is no Mahler in which he famously conducted her. Sargent conducts her Bach, but more impressive is the wonderful example of sweet-toned solo violin style of the immediate post-WW2 period in the aria from the St Matthew Passion played by the LSO’s leader David McCallum - father of David McCallum Jnr, he who played Ilya Kuryakin in the ‘Man from UNCLE’. Where Sargent fails is in his slow tempo for ‘What is Life’, a little over a minute slower than Stiedry’s intensely hard-driven version in the original Italian recorded from the Glyndebourne staging a year later.
 

The selling point of this CD is the accompanying DVD which was commissioned by the BBC for the 50th anniversary in 2003 of Ferrier’s death and given various showings that year and since across all the BBCTV channels. A declaration of interest is made by this reviewer - a participant in the film as the editor of her Letters and Diaries. There is a film within a film, which includes valuable and fascinating footage from the BBC’s 1968 Omnibus with characters long departed life’s stage, such as Britten, Barbirolli, her singing teacher John Hutchinson, sister Win, friends from her native North-West, and her singing colleagues such as Roy Henderson and Isobel Baillie. The narrator is Robert Lindsay, Ferrier's words on the DVD are spoken by Vivien Parry, and her letters read by Patricia Routledge, which is the only miscalculation, because her voice is too old for a woman in her late 30s. Dame Janet Baker, Ian Jack, Sir George Christie, John Steane, Veronica Dunne and the late Alan Blyth, Adele Leigh and Lady Barbirolli are among those interviewed specifically for the DVD. 

All of which may mean old wine in new bottles, but even the bottles are beginning to acquire their own value.

Christopher Fifield

 


 


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