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Kathleen Ferrier - The Complete EMI Recordings Box set

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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  • Kathleen Ferrier - The Complete EMI Recordings
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Product details

  • Audio CD (16 April 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B006LPI0N2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,438 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

Issued to mark the centenary of Kathleen Ferrier s birth, this 3CD set brings together for the first time all the EMI recordings by this great contralto, including two previously unissued tracks. In addition the booklet features three EMI publicity photos rarely seen since she first signed a contract with HMV/Colombia in 1944.

CD1 begins with four test recordings of pieces by Gluck, Brahms and Elgar recorded by producer Walter Legge in June 1944 but not issued until 1978. Ferrier signed a one-year contract with EMI in September 1944 and her first commercial release was the two arias by the Baroque composer Maurice Greene that follow. Then come two Handel solos and five duets with soprano Isobel Baillie of compositions by Purcell and Mendelssohn. These completed Ferrier s EMI contract and she then moved to Decca.

In 1949 Ferrier came back to EMI to record Mahler s Kindertotenlieder in London with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter, the great Mahlerian who had introduced Ferrier to this work, which closes CD1

CD2 begins with four items recorded at a rehearsal in June 1950 for a concert of the Bach Mass in B Minor in Vienna with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra conducted by Karajan. EMI was setting up its recording equipment in the Musikvereinssaal for another project while the rehearsal was taking place and the engineer, as a test, turned on the tape machine to capture, almost complete, these four precious Ferrier tracks, which include two solos and two duets with the soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.

Then comes a complete performance of Ferrier s signature operatic role, that of Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck. This live recording dates from a radio broadcast in July 1951 in Amsterdam.

CD3 concludes with two bonus tracks; these are reserve takes of the first and the fifth movements of Kindertotenlieder being issued here for the first time. This work was originally recorded on 12-inch waxes, with a tape machine running as safety back-up, as was EMI s practice in 1949. Masters from the waxes were used for most of the original 78-rpm sides, but for the release of the work on CD, the back-up tapes were used, and these reserve takes have also survived.

About the Artist

Kathleen Ferrier (22 April 1912 - 8 October 1953) remains one of the best-loved British singers of our time. The eminent vocal expert Alan Blyth wrote of her in 1998: Kathleen Ferrier, a legend in her own lifetime, has certainly become one since her untimely death in 1953. Her professional life, lasting little more than a decade, saw her rise from the obscurity of appearing with choirs in the north of England to the eminence of an international career in the company of such conductors as Barbirolli, Walter and Klemperer. It was an extraordinary transformation in every respect, but one wholly justified by the dignity and conviction of her singing and the commitment of her interpretations.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Kathleen Ferrier's recording career with EMI was relatively brief in an already too brief career. Although he was delighted at having signed her up, Walter Legge's dictatorial manner repelled her and she soon defected to Decca, for whom, by and large, she made the best of her recordings in terms of both quality and sound.

Nonetheless, there are gems here: not least her early microphone testing sessions for Legge, the invaluable "Kindertotenlieder" for her mentor Bruno Walter and a complete recording of her signature role, Gluck's "Orfeo", in Amsterdam in 1951. The latter is an egregious example of where an EMI version easily tops the Decca: the 1947 recording, made under the inflexible Stiedry before Ferrier had refined and deepened her interpretation on stage, is both abridged and inferior in almost every way to this one. Conversely, the Bach excerpts, recorded almost by accident during rehearsals with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf under Karajan, are nowhere near as satisfying as the studio recordings made for Decca with Sir Adrian Boult, so ardent collectors will want to own the complete sets from both houses.

There is a theory that part of Ferrier's extraordinary quality of sound derives from the fact that she was in a sense a true original, never having been schooled to acquire a "conservatory sound", although to my ears she is simply the natural successor in a line of traditional British contraltos now virtually extinct.
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This is a most wonderful set of recordings by Kathleen Ferrier who was the finest contralto that has lived within the period of recorded sound. The eveness of her range and faultlessness of her technique is quite incredible and was ever legendery, as was the range of her emotional grasp and expression. She was music, through and through, and was a very great artist in every sense.
One can use a word that can, and should only very rarely be used about performers: she was an interpretational genius who was never personally obtrusive at the expense of the composer. We can, all of us, learn a very great deal from her. She made the other great singers of her day, ( and ours! ) sound rather amateurish and tatty.
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This is Kathleen Ferrier's centenary year and EMI have done her proud with this excellent set. Consdiering the original recordings were made over 60 years ago the EMI production team have done an excellent job in making the sound so rich and clean (at least in most of the tracks - some are only tests previously unreleased and therefore do not have and could not have the same quality). For anyone who loves Kathleen Ferrier's voice and cannot get enough of her glorious singing this is a must buy item. Well done and thank you EMI.
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