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Kathleen Ferrier - Wenn der Stimme Flügel wachsen (When the voice finds wings to fly)
see end of review for disc contents
rec. 1946-52
DOCUMENTS 233590 [10 CDs: circa 9:40:00] 

Experience Classicsonline

Relatively late in Kathleen Ferrier’s centenary year another collection of CDs has been issued, this time by the German company Membran under its label called Documents. It bears the poetic subtitle ‘Wenn der Stimme Flügel wachsen’ (which the box translates as ‘When the voice finds wings to fly’ - neither an expression nor a quotation to the best of my knowledge of German). First thing to report is that there is nothing new among the ten discs, while without any documentation - no pun intended - or accompanying booklet, it is impossible to know whether or not any re-mastering has taken place. It’s somewhat of a mish-mash of a collection yet gives a good idea of the breadth of Ferrier’s repertoire at an inexpensive price (£10 on some internet sites). Single discs are devoted solely to Mahler (the famous recording of Das Lied von der Erde she recorded with Bruno Walter in Vienna in 1952), Brahms, Bach and Gluck while the rest are loosely grouped by period or genre such as Lieder, arias from oratorio or traditional folksongs. Orfeo is the 1947 Glyndebourne version rather than the more experienced and mature Holland performance or the confident and settled interpretation she gave in New York over the next three years.
Most Ferrier lovers will have these works already, either on the recent 2-CD EMI set or on the Decca 14-box centenary set. Because they are not chronologically set out, one is dodging backwards and forwards in time. Not that there was much of it, for her ten-year career (begun at 31, therefore a good five years behind any ‘normal’ starting age) was one of playing constant catch-up on her lost years. There were nine of them spent working for the Post Office from when she left school at age 14 to her marriage at 23, so crucially at just the time a voice would be forming but under expert guidance. So repertoire building became an urgent priority once her professional career was launched at the very end of 1942 at the National Gallery in one of Myra Hess’ lunchtime concerts. Within five years she had moved from being a domestic housewife to singing at Covent Garden (touring Britten’s Rape of Lucretia - a work missing from this set). Those who are testing the water when it comes to Kathleen Ferrier might be at a loss without any background information to put her into context as Britain’s greatest lyric contralto of the twentieth century but on the other hand the voice ‘says’ it all.
Christopher Fifield 

Disc contents
CD 1 [60.52]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Das Lied von der Erde [60.52]
Kathleen Ferrier (contralto), Julius Patzak (tenor)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Bruno Walter
Date of recording 15, 16, 20 May 1952, Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria
CD 2 [50.39]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n [4.52]
Nun seh’ ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen [4.40]
Wenn dein Mütterlein tritt zur Tür herein [4.32]
Oft denk’ ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen! [2.55]
In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus [6.22]
Three Rückert Lieder
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen [5.35]
Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft [2.47]
Um Mitternacht [6.24]
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Bruno Walter
Date of recording 4 October 1949, Kingsway Hall, London
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
Vier Mörike Lieder
Verborgenheit [3.47]
Der Gärtner [1.47]
Auf ein altes Bild [3.19]
Auf einer Wanderung [3.42]
Phyllis Spurr (piano)
Broadcast from Norway on 16 October 1949
CD 3 [39.23]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Gretchen am Spinnrade D118 [3.14]
Die junge Nonne D828 [4.48]
Phyllis Spurr (piano)
Date of recording 14 March 1947, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London
An die Musik D.547 [3.07]
Phyllis Spurr (piano)
Date of recording 14 February 1949, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London
Der Musensohn D.764 [2.16]
Phyllis Spurr (piano)
Date of recording 19 December 1949, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Frauenliebe und Leben Op.42 [21.59]
Volksliedchen Op.51 No.2 [1.20]
Widmung Op.25 No.1 [2.29]
John Newmark (piano)
Date of recording 12 and 14 July 1950, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London 

CD 4 [44.37]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Gestillte Sehnsucht Op.91 No.1 [5.08]
Geistliches Wiegenlied Op.91 No.2 [5.06]
Phyllis Spurr (piano) Max Gilbert (viola]
Date of recording 15 February1949, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London
Vier ernste Gesänge (Four Serious Songs) Op.121 [18.26]
John Newmark (piano)
Date of recording 17 July1950, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London
Rhapsody for alto, male chorus and orchestra Op.53 [15.52]
London Philharmonic Men’s Choir/Orchestra/Clemens Krauss
Date of recording 18 and 19 December 1947, Kingsway Hall, London  

CD 5 [58.53]
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
St Matthew Passion BWV244 (excerpts)
No.1 Come, ye daughters (chorus) [10.08]
No.9 My Master and my Lord (alto recitative)
No.10 Grief for sin (alto aria) [4.52]
No.33 Behold, my Saviour (soprano and alto duet and chorus) [5.05]
No.36 Ah! Now is my Saviour gone (alto aria and chorus) [5.15]
No.47 Have mercy, Lord, on me (alto aria) [8.42]
No.60 O gracious God! (alto recitative)
No.61 If my tears be unavailing (alto aria) [9.32]
No.69 Ah, Golgotha! (alto recitative)
No.70 See ye! (alto aria and chorus) [5.47]
No.77 And now the Lord to rest is laid (recitative for soloists and chorus)
No.78 In tears of grief (chorus) [9.32]
Elsie Suddaby (soprano), Kathleen Ferrier (contralto), Eric Greene (tenor),
William Parsons (bass)
The Bach Choir
The Jacques Orchestra/Reginald Jacques
Date of recording Kingsway Hall, London 1947-1948 

CD 6 [50.46]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Mass in B minor BWV232
Qui sedes [5.45]
Agnus Dei [5.44]
St John Passion BWV245
All is fulfilled [5.47]
St Matthew Passion BWV244
Grief for sin [6.05]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
Date of recording 7 and 8 October 1952, Kingsway Hall, London
St Matthew Passion BWV244
Have mercy, Lord, on me [8.12]
National Symphony Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent
Date of recording 6 February 1946, Kingsway Hall, London
Ascension Oratorio BWV11
Ah tarry yet my dearest Saviour
The Jacques Orchestra/Reginald Jacques
Date of recording 1949, Kingsway Hall, London
CD 7 [45.21]
Giovanni PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater dolorosa [4.29]
Cujus animam gementem [2.17]
O quam tristis [2.07]
Quae moerebat [2.55]
Quis est homo [2.44]
Vidit suum dulcem Natum [3.39]
Eja Mater, fons amoris [2.15]
Fac ut ardeat [2.11]
Sancta Mater [5.45]
Fac ut portem [2.56]
Inflammatus [2.51]
Quando corpus [4.15]
Joan Taylor (soprano), Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Nottingham Oriana Choir
The Boyd Neel String Orchestra/Roy Henderson
Date of recording 8 and 28 May 1946, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London
Felix MENDLESSOHN (1809-1847)
Woe unto them [3.15]
O rest in the Lord [3.42]
The Boyd Neel Orchestra/Boyd Neel
Date of recording 2 September1946, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London 

CD 8 [53.28]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Sound the trumpet (Birthday Ode for Queen Mary) [2.01]
Let us wander, not unseen (The Indian Queen) [1.47]
Shepherd, shepherd cease decoying (King Arthur) [1.25]
Georg Friedrich HÄNDEL (1685-1759)
Frondi tenere … Ombra mai fu (Serse) [4.39]
Art thou troubled? (Rodelinda) [4.41]
London Symphony Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent
Date of recording 1948, Kingsway Hall, London
Spring is coming (Ottone) [3.53]
Come to me, soothing sleep (Ottone) [4.16]
Gerald Moore (piano)
Date of recording 20 April 1945, Studio 3, Abbey Road, London
Maurice GREENE (1696-1755)
O praise the Lord [1.53]
I will lay me down in peace [3.52]
Gerald Moore (piano)
Date of recording 30 September 1944, Studio 3, Abbey Road, London
Georg Friedrich HÄNDEL (1685-1759)
Return, O God of hosts! (Samson) [4.32]
O Thou that tellest (Messiah) [5.44]
Father of Heaven (Judas Maccabeus) [7.56]
He was despised (Messiah) [6.43]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Adrian Boult
Date of recording 7 and 8 October 1952, Kingsway Hall, London  

CD 9 [54.01]
Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787)
Orfeo ed Euridice (abridged)
Ann Ayars, Zoë Vlachopoulos (sopranos), Kathleen Ferrier (contralto)
Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Southern Philharmonic Orchestra/Fritz Stiedry
Date of recording 22, 23, 29 June 1947, Decca Studios, Broadhurst Gardens, London 
CD 10 [57.36]
Traditional Folksongs
Ma bonny lad arr. Whittaker [1.50]
The keel row arr. Whittaker [1.44]
Blow the wind southerly arr. Whittaker [2.24]
I have a bonnet trimmed with blue arr. Hughes [1.13]
I know where I’m going arr. Hughes [2.24]
I will walk with my love arr. Hughes [1.59]
The stuttering lovers arr. Hughes [1.45]
Down by the Salley Gardens arr. Hughes [3.08]
Kitty my love arr. Hughes [1.21]
The lover’s curse arr. Hughes [3.00]
My boy Willie arr. Sharp [1.45]
The fidgety bairn arr. Roberton [2.48]
Ca’ the yowes arr. Jacobson [3.24]
O Waly, Waly arr. Britten [3.34]
Come you not from Newcastle arr. Britten [1.37]
Willow, willow arr. Warlock [3.30]
Have you seen but a white lily grow? arr. Grew [2.25]
Ye banks and braes arr. Quilter [3.10]
Drink to me only arr. Quilter [3.01]
Ralph Vaughan WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
Silent noon [4.56]
Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
A soft day Op.140 No.3 [2.58]
The fairy lough Op.77 No.2 [3.42]
Phyllis Spurr (piano), John Newmark (piano), Frederick Stone (piano)
Dates of recording 1949-1952  



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