The Naxos sound is undoubtedly clearer and brighter, but this has been achieved by Mark Obert-Thorn controversially re-pitching the recordings at A = 440 Hertz instead of 428 Hertz of the original Decca masters. Those wanting Mahler’s Das Lied as a coupling will find the Regis sound again satisfactory, but the Naxos collection is more tempting. Botschaft and the Sapphische Ode are most touching, with Phyllis Spurr accompanying sensitively…in the Four Serious Songs the dark intensity of Ferrier’s singing is unforgettable, and again the transfers are excellent and equally truthful to the vocal timbre and piano. No translations are included on either disc.
Ferrier was a deeply impressive Lieder singer, but there are more tender, more loving emotions in Schumann’s cycle than she was able to convey at that stage of her career (1950). She is not helped by the limited accompaniment of John Newmark. Nevertheless, who will fail to be moved by her touching singing of the closing song, Nun last du mir den ersten Schmerz getan, and the Brahms coupling make this reissue indispensable.