Janet Baker in
Arianna a Naxos
Schubert, Wolf, Strauss:
Janet Baker (mezzo
John Constable, Geoffrey Parsons, Paul Hamburger
BBC Legends BBCL 4049-2
These recordings from 1968-70 find Dame Janet at the height of her considerable
powers, with recorded sound that is faithful and atmospheric. It is a winning
The full range of Haydn's solo cantata is captured in this performance, but
it is in Schumann's Frauenliebe und leben that the recital really
takes off. Accompanied by Geoffrey Parsons, Dame Janet gives what is surely
a great performance of one of the great song cycles, with subtleties in every
phrase, and technique and artistic imagination in perfect combination.
Then there are the various lieder, including Strauss Wolf, Schubert and more
Schumann. Perhaps the highlight among all these songs is the quite wonderful
mezza-voce found in Strauss's Morgen. There is a wonderfully subtle response
to the subtle melodic line, which is supported by the sensitive accompaniment
of Paul Hamburger.
This is simply one of the finest recital discs on the market today, but it
is disappointing that there are no texts and translations, no matter how
much Alan Blyth's excellent insert notes attempt to compensate.