It may take you a little time to love her voice
Epistrophy | Bangkok, Thailand | 08/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kathleen Ferrier has one of the most instantly recognizable voices in music. And it's a voice that might take you time to love. As an eight year old I heard her version of Blow the Wind Southerly many times on British radio and intensely disliked it. I wasn't sure if it was a man or a woman, adult or child, such is the nature of her contralto. But over the years, especially hearing Ferrier sing Handel and Mahler, I've come to treasure her recordings alongside Callas, Sutherland, Flagstad and Baker. This two disc set contains performances which are about 45-55 years old. Many favourites are here especially the folk songs and selections from Bach, Handel and Mahler. The sound quality is excellent. The sleeve notes mention that Ferrier's vocal delivery may sound old fashioned to our ears. But her remarkable voice which stirs one's deepest emotions, transcends any thought of quaintness or mannerism. She is, quite simply, the greatest contralto ever. This selection will have you seeking out her other recordings on Amazon.com. And it might also lead you to Virginia Rodrigues, a Brazilian contralto with a superb voice who, like Ferrier, makes everything she sings, her own."
Awesome voice, exquisite performances
Pieter | Johannesburg | 08/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These two CDs contain a great selection of classical, operatic and folk songs in English, German and Italian by the famous contralto (1912 - 1953). Highlights on the first CD include What Is Life from Orfeo et Euridice, Art Thou Troubled from Rodelina, Woe Unto Them and O Rest In The Lord from Elijah and the traditional song Blow The Wind Southerly.
My personal favorites appear on the second CD. The first is the divine Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, the Ben Jonson poem, which is a most mystical and transcending listening experience. The buoyant Stuttering Lovers is most catchy and appealing. Both of the aforementioned are sung to the piano accompaniment of pianist Phyllis Spurr.
Backed by the London Philharmonic, Ferrier renders splendid versions of Father Of Heaven from Judas Maccabaeus and O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion from The Messiah. These are truly awesome, the first one slow and somber, the second joyous and triumphant. Other highlights on this second CD include He Was Despised from The Messiah and All Is Fulfilled from St John Passion by Bach.
The informative CD booklet contains black and white photographs, a short biography in English, French and German, plus complete information on the recording of the tracks: composers, dates, venues, conductors and musicians. Kathleen Ferrier was a unique vocalist who made a magnficent contribution to classical and folk music."
British classical singer from a bygone age
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 06/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The album's title suggests that this is a tribute by other performers to Kathleen Ferrier, but it is actually a compilation of Kathleen's own recordings. Kathleen was raised in Blackburn, Lancashire, and learned to play piano at an early age. After a few years singing and playing piano at many small venues in the north of England, Kathleen moved to London, where she secured a recording contract. Kathleen recorded all the music here between February 1946 and October 1952. Kathleen died of cancer in February 1953.
Despite being an accomplished pianist, it seems that other pianists, especially Phyllis Sparr, played piano on Kathleen's recordings, leaving Kathleen to focus on singing. Baroque songs and arias, especially by Bach, were a significant part of her repertoire, but many of Kathleen's fans enjoyed her operatic renditions of traditional British folk songs. All these styles are well represented in this collection but, sadly, Kathleen didn't (and maybe wasn't allowed to) record any of the saucy poems and cabaret songs that she apparently sometimes performed at parties.
Given my musical tastes, it should surprise nobody who follows my reviews that my favorites here tend to be those traditional British folk songs. They include Come you not from Newcastle, The keel row, Ma bonny lsd, Blow the wind southerly, Ye banks and braes, I have a bonnet trimmed with blue, Down by the Sally gardens and The stuttering leaves. Of course, if you are more committed to classical music than I am, you may well prefer the Baroque songs and arias, but there is no denying that all the music here is of a high quality."