Kathleen Ferrier sings Opera and Songs
Decca have already given us a couple of Ferrier CDs (and three more are on the way). Here we have a large proportion of her EMI recordings on a generously filled CD, though I would like room to have been found for that brief glimpse of her Gerontius Angel, made as a test disc. The Kindertotenlieder included here is the familiar recording made with Walter in 1949 at London's Kingsway Hall, when the Vienna Philharmonic were here giving concerts under his direction. In February I reviewed the first issue of her live 1952 account of the work under Klemperer (Decca 417 634-IDM—LP only), commenting that it was just that much more immediate and moving in expression than this one. After listening to the older performance again, my view remains the same, but it has to be said that, on this clear, warmly recorded CD transfer, the EMI sound is obviously much superior to the Decca, and that may be a clinching factor for those enthusiasts who can't run to both.
Even more startling is the improvement in sound worked on the extracts from the radio broadcast of the live
The Handel solos, in spite of their spurious Somervell texts, the endearing duets with Baillie and, earliest of all, the charming Greene solos (his name misspelt ''Green'' in the booklet) show Ferrier at the start of her career in lighter and easier voice, but already disclosing that serene, smilingly sincere manner of hers that was to win so many hearts. Greene's I will lay me down in peace, the phrasing so natural, the dynamic control remarkable, says everything. All leap more freshly out of the speakers than on any previous issue.