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Mahler: Kindertotenlieder; Purcell / Kathleen Ferrier, Bruno Walter


Release Date: 03/09/1999 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 66963   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Gustav MahlerHenry PurcellFelix MendelssohnGeorge Frideric Handel,   ... 
Performer:  Kathleen FerrierGerald MooreIsobel Baillie
Conductor:  Bruno WalterCharles Bruck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraNetherlands Opera OrchestraNetherlands Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Looking first at Kindertotenlieder, we find Ferrier’s lush contralto in full bloom, an utterly gorgeous sound that set me wondering, "Why don’t we have any real contraltos like this any more?" It seems to be true, doesn’t it? Nowadays, with the fading of stars like Ludwig and Baker, you look around and there seem to be only mezzo-sopranos masquerading as contraltos.

It’s not simply the tone of her voice, spine-tingling as that is. It’s also a matter of the control. Ferrier’s voice had a vibrato but, unlike many a yowling cat that I could mention (but won’t, for fear of libel action!), kept the lid on it even when she ascended to the upper reaches of her range. More so than many, she seemed to have separate knobs to
Read more control dynamic and pitch. These controls are all-important keys to the door of exalted musical expression.

Expression is itself the key to Kindertotenlieder. Rückert’s words and Mahler’s music both dealt very sensitively, not to say diplomatically, with an extremely delicate subject, so it’s hardly surprising that you need a singer of comparable capabilities to perform them. Ferrier seems to have been one of very few who possessed that capability. To have both Ferrier and Bruno Walter, with his direct line of descent from Mahler himself, together on record might seem like a gift from the gods...

The voice is set well forward of Mahler’s mostly chamber-scale orchestra, yet orchestral detail is never under any real threat. In fact, Walter and the engineers have clearly been at pains to maximise the abundance of such details. Perhaps surprisingly for such a dark work, the presence afforded the silvery glockenspiel is remarkable. Then again, perhaps not, as Mahler knew well enough what he was about and Walter, of all the conductors who have ever recorded Mahler, knew the composer’s mind better than anyone. Whether or not you view these pinpricks of light against that sombre backdrop as symbolic, there is no denying the feeling of an icicle being prodded between your shoulder-blades. Neither is there any denying the skill and understanding with which Walter marshals his forces, both in terms of the flexibility of line and balance of colours - never has Mahler’s orchestration sounded more "wood-cut" than it does here. Of course, some of the credit for that must go to the fabulous solo and ensemble playing of the VPO!

The last song ("In diesem Wetter") is the one perhaps most at variance with modern interpretations. Adopting a fairly deliberate pace, Walter does not "milk" the violence. By giving himself exactly the right amount of elbow-room, Walter seems to achieve two things. Firstly, the raging elements are very definitely - and properly - experienced from the inside of the house, their threat muted by the intervention of some stout stone walls. Secondly, he opens out the amazing colours inherent in Mahler’s score in a way that just isn’t possible if the "heavy mob" is given its head. If proof were needed, just listen to the pizzicati that Walter elicits from the VPO strings - cutting viciously through the texture rather than swilling around within it.

At the same time - and maybe I should say "thirdly"! - Ferrier doesn’t have to either babble her words or yell her head off, but sing her line in a voice not so much panic-stricken as laden with fear and regret. In the slow coda, Walter resists the obvious temptation to let the music wallow interminably. By keeping it moving, he finds the feeling of a simple lullaby, in which Ferrier’s tone becomes delicate but not pianissimo, her song frail but also reassuringly prayerful.

-- Peter Serotsky, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Kindertotenlieder by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1904; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/04/1949 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 23 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: German 
2.
Sound the trumpet, Z 335 by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto), Gerald Moore (Piano), Isobel Baillie (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1687; England 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1945 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
Indian Queen, Z 630: Let us wander not unseen by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Isobel Baillie (Soprano), Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1695; England 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1945 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
King Arthur, or The British Worthy, Z 628: Shepherd leave by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto), Isobel Baillie (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1691; England 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1945 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Language: English 
5.
Duets (6), Op. 63: no 1, Ich wollt' meine Lieb' by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Isobel Baillie (Soprano), Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1945 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: English 
6.
Duets (6), Op. 63: no 3, Gruss by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Isobel Baillie (Soprano), Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1945 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: English 
7.
Ottone, HWV 15: La speranza è giunta in porto by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1723; London, England 
Date of Recording: 04/20/1945 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: English 
8.
Ottone, HWV 15: Vieni, o figlio, e mi consola by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1723; London, England 
Date of Recording: 04/20/1945 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Language: English 
9.
O praise the Lord, ye that fear him by Maurice Greene
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto), Gerald Moore (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 09/30/1944 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranged: Roper 
10.
O God of my righteousness "I will lay me down in peace" by Maurice Greene
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1743 
Date of Recording: 09/30/1944 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 3, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Arranged: Roper 
11.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Chiamo il mio ben così by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Conductor:  Charles Bruck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1951 
Venue:  Municipal Theater, Amsterdam 
Length: 7 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
12.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Deh! placetevi con me! by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Conductor:  Charles Bruck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera Chorus,  Netherlands Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1951 
Venue:  Municipal Theater, Amsterdam 
Length: 7 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
13.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Che puro ciel! by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Conductor:  Charles Bruck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1951 
Venue:  Municipal Theater, Amsterdam 
Length: 5 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
14.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Che farò senza Euridice? by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Kathleen Ferrier (Alto)
Conductor:  Charles Bruck
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands Opera Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1951 
Venue:  Municipal Theater, Amsterdam 
Length: 6 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection begins with "Che faci mai?..." 

Sound Samples

Sound the trumpet (Birthday Ode for Queen Mary) (1998 Digital Remaster)
Let us wander, not unseen (The Indian Queen - Act III, Dryden, arranged Moffat) (1998 Digital Remaster)
Shepperd, shepherd, cease decoying (King Arthur - Act II) (Dryden) (1998 Digital Remaster)
Spring is coming (Ottone, Rè di Germania) (Haym) (1998 Digital Remaster)
Come to me, soothing sleep (Ottone, Rè di Germania) (Haym) (1998 Digital Remaster)
Orfeo ed Euridice (Calzabigi) (1998 Digital Remaster): Chiamo il mio ben così (Act I)
Orfeo ed Euridice (Calzabigi) (1998 Digital Remaster): Deh! placatevi con me (Act II)
Orfeo ed Euridice (Calzabigi) (1998 Digital Remaster): Che puro ciel! (Act II)
Orfeo ed Euridice (Calzabigi) (1998 Digital Remaster): Che feci mai?...Che farò senza Euridice? (Act III)
O praise the Lord (from anthem 'Praise the Lord, O my soul') (1998 Digital Remaster)
I will lay me down in peace (from anthem 'O God of my righteousness') (1998 Digital Remaster)
I would that my love Op. 63 No. 1 (Heine) (1998 Digital Remaster)
Greeting Op. 63 No. 2 (Eichendorff) (1998 Digital Remaster)
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Nun will die Sonn' so hell aufgeh'n
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Nun seh' ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Wenn dein Mütterlein, tritt zur Tür herein
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): Oft denk' ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen!
Kindertotenlieder (Rückert) (1998 Digital Remaster): In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 A classic. May 23, 2013 By aries n. (new york, NY) See All My Reviews "Bruno Walter and Kathleen Ferrier brought Mahler's vocal works back to the concert halls after World War #2 when Mahler's music was forbidden to be played by Hitler." Report Abuse
 Definitive April 27, 2013 By J. Trimpey (Placerville, CA) See All My Reviews "I have several performances of Kindertotenleider, which is perhaps the most soulful lament ever written. It was written early in Mahler's career, and he later said he couldn't bear to have written it as an older, more mature man with a broader view of life, as though he had wandered into unspeakable matters of the heart, and would never go there again. Although this is one of the oldest recorded performances, it stands out to me as the definitive performance to which others should be compared. B. Walter had Mahler dialed in perfectly, and his successors have been reaching for the depths of this performance ever since, usually in melodramatic impropriety. Kathleen Ferrier's alto voice conveyed the sweetness and grief of maternal love like none other I’ve heard. No Bravos here; just quiet understanding." Report Abuse
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