A great singer, a great conductor and a great orchestra singing great music, beautifully remastered for this bargain compilation - what are you waiting for?
Of course, any seasoned music lover will certainly have this music performed by other artists or already even have some of these recordings in another form and it is perfectly possible to prefer other individual readings. For example, I still marginally favour Janet Baker's reading of the Wesendonck Lieder with Boult; indeed Baker is really the only other comparable singer of this era and their voices are often similar - but each has her inimitable timbre and inflections. When I am listening to Ludwig's glorious sound, however, I do not find myself wishing for Baker, as much as I enjoy both. Ludwig finds just the right mood for each piece and her vocalisation is peerless; she soars over this music effortlessly. The two soprano items - the "Liebestod" from "Tristan" and the "Abscheulicher" from "Fidelio" - betray no hint of strain, even if there is reason to believe that moving up precipitated Ludwig's vocal crisis in the 70's (burst capillaries on the vocal cords; happily overcome) and I have to say that the gem of the recital for me is still the Beethoven aria, which I have long owned as part of the wonderful complete set; those top B's are marvellous.
Ludwig has the knack of living the music and communicating directly with the listener such that her voice goes right to the heart. For instance, she finds just the right gravity and serenity for the Brahms but becomes much more nervy and febrile for disturbing songs such as Mahler's "Das irdische Leben". Klemperer secures perfect tempi and beautiful playing from all sections of the Philhamonia. My only minor cavil about anything on this disc is that the Philharmonic Chorus basses are a bit growly in the "Alto Rhapsody", but then I run out of things to moan about. Buy it.
on 1 February 2009
I have, since the age of 14, collected music conducted by Otto Klemperer. I once saw him conduct at the Royal Festivel Hall, what an experience. This disk is a gem, the playing and the singing are as one, the selection of the music makes for a very satisfying listen. Highly reccommended