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Amazingly I only came across the famed contralto Marian Anderson, on RTE's High Fidelity series in 2011. I've always enjoyed contralto, (and baritone) voices, and bought this CD ASAP.
It's a very mixed bag which includes Negro Spirituals, an assortment of Arias and traditional songs all recorded between 1930 and 1947, when Anderson was in her 30's.
The sound it has to be said, is not particularly good, but we are dealing with pretty basic technologies of the period... However, it is good enough for you to know, that to be in her audience - whether it be in New York, Paris, Vienna, Buenos Aires, or London, would have been a very special experience indeed.
Marian Anderson sang and studied all over the world, and was lauded by musicians, composers, presidents and kings, wherever she performed - apart from the land of her birth - the United States of America, where initially she faced much opposition and discrimination due to her racial background. However the winds of change began to blow, and Anderson gradually received the acclaim and admiration at home - that she had so readily found in Europe and elsewhere.
In this two part Naxos collection - I particularly like the old Negro Spirituals - where Anderson uses her powerful contralto energy, and heartfelt intonations to wonderful effect. Though she was regarded as a `contralto', Marian Anderson could and did, sing right across the musical range.
Classics including `Heav'n, Heav'n', `Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child', `Dere's No Hiding Place' and `Every Time I Feel the Spirit' are restful, and have real richness and depth. The beautiful and rather lugubrious `Poor Me' offers a pleasing contrast to the more lively and colourful arias.
The accompanying sleeve notes contain interesting biographical details and useful notes. All in all - a lovely and unusual collection, and at such a good price - is a worthwhile acquisition for all discerning music lovers.
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