KATHLEEN FERRIER Centenary Edition 14 CDs + 1 DVD 4783589

. . . a unique voice . . . deep-toned with the resonance of a cello, a wide range of color and immaculate diction in English, German and Italian . . . an invaluable treasure for lovers of great singing . . . Her Decca interpretation of Brahms' "Four Serious Songs" is the touchstone for that great work.

. . . the lovelorn Margaret in "Gretchen am Spinnrade" and the tragic girl in "Die junge Nonne" are each subtly and distinctly drawn, while "An die Musik" is an outpouring of golden sound . . . Ferrier's vivacious personality and sense of fun brilliantly enliven the fourth song, "Der Musensohn". Within perfect phrasing, finely poised tone is scrupulously shaded to each line of Goethe's poem . . . The brief finale in which the scamp remembers his own home and lover is exquisitely fashioned to complete two minutes of pure joy . . . [on Vaughan Williams: "Silent noon"]: Ferrier's singing of this song has remarkable poise. Her diction is superb and is never overemphasised. The song is beautifully phrased throughout . . . Ferrier's use of voice and words does what the poem demands . . . Ferrier's imaginative use of dynamics draws us into the intimate scene . . . Her interpretation is almost religious here . . . This recording gives me immense pleasure . . . [on Britten: "Spring Symphony"]: [the recording] is extraordinarily immediate . . . Jo Vincent is matronly as the soprano soloist; Peter Pears is still the fresh-voiced youth who inspired so much from Britten . . . we hear Ferrier's unmistakable voice . . . unique vocal quality: a unique and a timeless moment . . . [on Mahler: "Das Lied von der Erde"]: The recording by her which always stays in my mind is the "Abschied" from Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde". It is her voice I hear whenever this work is played. Others have sung the music as movingly and often with splendid vocal quality but none affects me to quite such an extent. There are no words to convey adequately the emotions experienced when Kathleen's burnished tones and expressive diction combine in Mahler's magnificent composition . . . [on "British Songs"]: 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 . . . [on 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 . . . 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 . . . [on "Ca' the yowes"]: It is not easy to pick one significant item from such a rich legacy as that left by Kathleen Ferrier . . . Apart from my admiration of her musical gifts, it is the lovely, lively, sociable human being that this song recalls to me.

. . . a hugely enjoyable commemoration, fresh-sounding and vibrant, and my recording highlight of 2012.

Voix sombre et cuivrée, d'une blessure secrète . . . tension palpitante, émotivité partagée par les solistes et les instrumentistes du Wiener Philharmoniker: une version légendaire à juste titre (couplé avec les 3 Rückert lieder... d'une sincérité irrésistible). La puissance émue du timbre, ce legato grave et mielé ne laisse pas de nous interroger car la voix, presque 60 ans après la disparition de la diva anglaise, conserve toujours sa très forte étrangeté, son indicible vérité, sa vibration lunaire et incandescente. On comprend dès lors que son contemporain Britten lui ait destiné le rôle de Lucrezia pour son opéra âpre et sauvage, violent et désespéré The Rape of Lucrezia; que Bruno Walter ait affirmé qu'il y avait deux rencontres décisives dans sa vie, Kathleen Ferrier et Gustav Mahler "dans cet ordre".

. . . cette simplicité, cet éloquence sans détour, ce droit-au-but des mots. Un art qui n'avait rien de composé, mais dont la vérité, la franchise autorisaient au sentiment toutes ses nuances magnifiques . . .