Author Topic: Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice (Stiedry / Kathleen Ferrier 1947)  (Read 1522 times)

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Offline bigshot

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Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice (Stiedry / Kathleen Ferrier 1947)
« on: July 05, 2012, 06:11:39 PM »
Here is another of my transfers from original 78s...

Christoph Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice (concise version in Italian)
Fritz Stiedry conducting the Southern Philharmonic Orchestra
Kathleen Ferrier, Anne Ayars, Zoe Vlachopoulos
& the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus (Recorded 1947)

Download:
http://www.vintageip.com/xfers/gluckorfeoedeuridice.mp3



Christoph Gluck was born in 1714 in what is now known as Czechoslovakia. At a young age he left home to pursue a career in music. He travelled throughout Europe, studying and absorbing the various musical styles of the day, until he settled in Vienna in 1752. He was granted a pension by Prince Lobkowitz, and took a position there as director of the royal orchestra and opera.

Along with the poet Calzabigi, Gluck wrote several operas, most notably Orfeo ed Euridice, based on the Greek myth of Orpheus's trip to the underworld. Gluck's approach to the music was unique. Instead of the traditional florid, ornamented music that was so often irrelevant to the story being told, Gluck resolved to make the music serve the poetry by expressing the drama of the situation. The storyline of Orfeo ed Euridice was simple and direct, with understandable emotional motivation behind the characters' actions. Gluck blurred the line between recitative and aria, giving the work a continuity that other contemporary operas lacked.

The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music sums it up by saying, "Gluck's music can have driving energy, but also a serenity reaching to the sublime. His historical importance rests on his establishment of a new equilibrium between music and drama, and his greatness on the power and clarity with which he projected that vision. He dissolved the drama in music instead of merely illustrating it."

Fritz Stiedry was born in Vienna in 1893. He worked as an assitant to Gustav Mahler along side Bruno Walter in the first decade of the 20th century, and like Walter, was driven from Berlin in 1933. He spent a few years in Russia before emigrating to the United States in 1938. He was one of the principal conductors at the Metropolitan Opera in the 40s and 50s, and passed away in Switzerland in 1968.

But this particular recording of Gluck's masterpiece is important primarily for the contribution of the contralto singing the title role... Kathleen Ferrier. Born in Lancashire in 1912, Ferrier showed promise as a singer and pianist at an early age, but the family's financial circumstances required her to leave school and take a job at age 14. Her singing attracted the attention of vocal instructor, J. E. Hutchinson, who recognized her God-given talent and helped her build a repetoire of music by Handel, Purcell and Bach. Baritone, Roy Henderson continued her training in German art songs by Brahms, Schubert and Schumann.

As soon as she was introduced to the public, she became an overnight success, performing with all of the greatest conductors and orchestras of the time, including Bruno Walter, who recognized her voice as being perfect for Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.. She performed as Lucrecia in Britten's Rape of Lucrecia, and sang the lead role in Orfeo ed Euridice at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1947, which led to this particular recording of the work. In 1951, she underwent treatment for breast cancer, which temporarily interrupted her career. Two years later, even though she was very ill, Ferrier was scheduled to sing Orfeo again under the baton of John Barbirolli. But she was only able to take the stage in two performances. She died of breast cancer at age 41.

Bruno Walter wrote that "Kathleen Ferrier was a woman of good humor, and should be remembered in a major key." The emotion in her singing still rings true, and the conviction and honesty comes through loud and clear across the years since she passed away. This recording is a testament to her greatness... a voice that was silenced much too soon.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2012, 06:36:57 PM by bigshot »

Offline bigshot

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Re: Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice (Stiedry / Kathleen Ferrier 1947)
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 09:49:10 AM »
To those who want a quick sample of Ferrier in this role...

Che faro senza, Euridice?
http://vintageip.com/xfers/chefaro.mp3

It will make you cry!