The incomparable British contralto Kathleen Ferrier was born 100 years ago this month. For most of her short career she recorded with Decca, but in the beginning she worked with EMI, and here are early studio tryouts with Gerald Moore at the piano, a surprising couple of items from Bach's B minor Mass recorded in rehearsal with Karajan and Schwarzkopf, and the famous, unbearably intense Mahler Kindertotenlieder with Bruno Walter. The start and finish is Gluck's Orfeo, whose aria "Che faro" became her tragic signature tune; a radio broadcast of the opera fills the rest of this set. The voice is unique, its emotional power palpable after all these years.
Nicholas Kenyon is managing director of the Barbican Centre and was director of the BBC Proms from 1996 to 2007. He wrote the Faber Pocket Guide to Mozart