One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

in the first division


extraordinary by any standards


An excellent disc


a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.


Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now
RECORDING OF THE MONTH


A Garland for John McCabe


ABRAHAMSEN Quartets


DIETHELM Symphonies


The best Rite of Spring in Years


BACH Magnificat


Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26


Just enjoy it!


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

 

 

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Availability (see below)

Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Das Lied von der Erde (1907-09)
Kathleen Ferrier (contralto); Set Svanholm (tenor)
Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York /Bruno Walter
rec. live Carnegie Hall, New York, 18 January, 1948
XR Remastering
PRISTINE AUDIO PACO137 [58:20]

This live recording was made four years before the famous Decca studio version, by which time Kathleen Ferrier had already undergone treatment for the cancer which prematurely ended her life so cruelly. Thus, despite the beauty of that later recording, she is in fact in richer, more secure voice here in 1948, with a considerably stronger top G and even more effulgence in her tone. She is wrongly described as a mezzo-soprano in the lukewarm “New York Times” review of the first concert - and Ferrier’s New York debut - three days earlier, but the depth and mellowness of her timbre here refutes that categorisation; she was a true contralto and sings majestically, the voice often coming across as really large and powerful, despite the fragile delicacy of her quiet singing in passages such as “Mein Herz ist müde”. The magical “ewig…ewig” of the extended concluding movement is so steadily intoned and her singing is demonstrably superior to the recording four years later, good as that is.

Bruno Walter is of course of impeccable pedigree as the conductor of the 1911 premiere of this work. He made three commercial recordings and tended towards increasingly relaxed tempi as time went on; this is just as grand as the Decca recording but a tauter, brighter, more driven performance – and it must be said that the New York Philharmonic plays rather more confidently and securely than the VPO; the strings are fuller and the horns are especially good despite the odd blip.

Set Svanholm is more of an echter Heldentenor than Julius Patzak and has all the notes, although even this Tristan is taxed and audibly strained by his very demanding music. Given that Patzak was already 56 years old when he recorded for Walter and Svanholm is here only 43, one may all the more admire the astuteness with which Patzak husbands his resources, compared with Svanholm’s effortfulness, but both make much of the text and manage to prevail against big orchestras, which Walter made no effort to rein in.

The sound is really very good for its vintage and provenance on acetates; there is very little audience noise and despite the inevitable presence of some hiss and papery crackle, I found it to be rather more immediate than the later studio recording.

This performance has been previously briefly available on both the Naxos “Immortal Performances” and the “Documents” labels, but I have little doubt that this Pristine remastering is the one to have now – and indeed I think I favour it over the celebrated 1952 studio account for the energy of Walter’s conducting and the youthful vigour of Ferrier’s singing.

Ralph Moore

Note
At the time of publication, the Pristine Classical website had been offline for a few weeks due to server problems. The temporary home page provides ordering information.

 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger