Pretty much all you need to know about this disc is that it contains the best transfers ever of the best performances ever by the best English contralto ever. It's true: by common agreement, Kathleen Ferrier was the deepest, roundest, warmest, sweetest alto the Brits ever had and, by common consent, her performances of Brahms' Alto Rhapsody and Chausson's Poeme de l'Amour et de la Mer were not only her best performances -- excepting, of course, her Mahler Das Lied and Kindentotenlieder -- they were among the best recordings of those pieces, period. Even listeners who find her tone a bit too fruity and her interpretations a tad too precious have to concede that for intensity, concentration, and sheer soulfulness, Ferrier is impossible to beat. For younger listeners unfamiliar with her work, these performances will be revelations of tremendous beauty. For older listeners already familiar with her work and all too familiar with the often severely compromised state of her reissues, these transfers -- clear, warm, and wonderfully evocative -- will be revelations of tremendous impact and effectiveness. Anyone who already loves Kathleen Ferrier will love this release and anyone who doesn't already love her will do so before the Alto Rhapsody is over.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Vier ernste Gesänge (4), for voice & piano (Four Serious Songs), Op. 121|
Vergiss mein nicht, sacred song for voice & continuo (Schemelli Gesangbuch No. 627), BWV 505 (BC F262)
Ach, dass nicht die letzte Stunde, sacred song for voice & continuo (Schemelli Gesangbuch No. 831), BWV 439 (BC F274)