Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Die junge Nonne, D828
Das Rosenband, D280
Auf dem See, D543
Blumenlied, D431
Gondelfahrer, D808
Die Götter Griechenlands, D677
Der Jüngling und der Tod, D545
Schwestergruá, D762
Amalia, D195
Der Jüngling am Bache, D30
Entzückung an Laura, D390
Sehnsucht, D636
Der Sieg, D805
Abendstern, D806
Atys, D585
Augenlied, D297
Memnon, D541
Aufl"sung, D807
Der Musensohn, D764

Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano)
Graham Johnson (piano) Nos. 1-6
Martin Isepp (piano), Nos.7-8
Geoffrey Parsons (piano), Nos. 9-19
Rec (Nos. 1-6): 2nd October 1977, The Maltings, Snape
(Nos. 7-8): 20th April 1970, St John's Smith Square, London
(Nos. 9-19): 1st September 1980, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
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Janet Baker hardly needs a general introduction as a lieder singer. Her interpretations of Schubert are by now legendary, but these recordings from broadcast performances are not widely known. They are marvellous, and fully worthy of her name.

The programme is imaginatively compiled from three recitals across a period of ten years from 1970, and there are three different accompanists, each of whom is a major artist in his own right, particularly in this field.

The poets are varied, but three in particular are featured: Goethe, Schiller and Mayrhofer. Since Schubert excelled in his response to poetry, it is no surprise that each poet brings forth a different artistic personality from the composer, and Baker makes the most of this. For example, the dynamic nuances are quite wonderful, as in the real pianissimo effected in Entzückung an Laura, or the more dramatic approach in Sehnsucht. Die Götter Griechenlands is also splendidly done.

A few of the songs are perennial favourites, such as Der Musensohn, but there are plenty of others which are equally fine but hardly known.. Into this category come such as Auf dem See and Abendtern, and it is surely a tribute to the imagination of this compilation that it should explore the repertoire at the same time as paying homage to a great artist.

The recorded sound is good, not necessarily constant in acoustic or atmosphere, but never wanting in accuracy or pleasing tone. Each accompanist worked regularly with Janet Baker and enjoyed a special rapport with her.

The only disappointment has nothing directly to do with the performances, but concerns the general packaging. There is an interesting essay about Dame Janet, but practically nothing about the music she is performing. As if this is not bad enough, there are no texts and translations, so anyone wishing to make the most of these performances will need to have access to documentary material from some other source, such as John Reed's comprehensive study of the Schubert songs. But why should a major issue such as this fall victim to crass editorial decisions? Surely if recordings are to be issued, they should be issued properly. There really is no excuse.

Terry Barfoot

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