Kathleen Ferrier Blow the wind southerly 4334752
What we hear comes from the heart with typical impeccable diction, with that wonderful ability to control dynamics in a second-verse echo and with a nobility and warmth which brings to the eye tears of sadness and joy. It is the finest of memorials.
. . . [Quilter: "Now sleeps the crimson petal"]: Simplicity charged with emotion. The miracle of this performance is in the way it combines perfect diction and immaculate timing (almost imperceptible pauses skilfully placed) with the gentlest of crescendos ("So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip"). Even within the first line, beyond the opening "Now sleeps the crimson petal", Ferrier intensifies the phrase "now the white" . . . not by over-stressing the words, but by drawing them inwards, reasserting herself again for the following line. Her warm, vibrant tone is evenly deployed throughout the song, lending an added poetic significance not only to Tennyson's words but to Quilter's touchingly harmonised music, allowing both to linger in the memory, much as a far longer Mahler slow movement might. Truly a thing of wonder.
It is not easy to pick one significant item from such a rich legacy as that left by Kathleen Ferrier but I finally chose "Ca' the yowes" . . . Apart from my admiration of her musical gifts, it is the lovely, lively, sociable human being that this song recalls to me.