Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Janet Baker in Recital


Arianna a Naxos

Frauenliebe und leben
Schubert, Wolf, Strauss
: Lieder
Janet Baker (mezzo soprano)
John Constable, Geoffrey Parsons, Paul Hamburger (piano)
BBC Legends BBCL 4049-2 (80 minutes)

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 combination.

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.

Terry Barfoot

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