Janet Baker

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dirkronk
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Janet Baker

Post by dirkronk » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:47 pm

Last night, I had a listening session with a fellow LP enthusiast, and I dragged out the boxed set of Mahler song cycles put out by CBS Masterworks in the early 1980s...with Janet Baker doing the Kindertotenlieder with Bernstein & the Israel PO, plus Ludwig and Von Stade in other works with Andrew Davis, et al. We listened to Baker and her performance was lovely, albeit in a very different way from her earlier (and sweeter) traversal with Barbirolli on EMI. When I got home, I checked and realized I have only a limited number of things by Baker on CD (I have probably 8 or 9 LPs), so I'm contemplating purchase of the EMI Icon box...too cheap and too good not to grab.

But I thought I'd also see if there are other things, perhaps less obvious, that have come out on CD and that are "too good to miss." With all the live recordings that have come to light over the past decade or two, I figure I might have missed something major.

Baker fans...gush forth with the recommendations, if you please!

Cheers,

Dirk

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:10 pm

Not a direct reply, but I had a fellow grad student, now a university professor of music theory, who thought there had only been three performers of genius in the 20th century: Pablo Casals, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Janet Baker. Not that those are bad choices, but as a trinity it is a bit of a challenge to explain.

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by Jared » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:56 pm

I'm scarcely in a position to comment I'm afraid, but I love JB's voice.

You'll get far more thorough recommendations from others, but I love her Brahms: Alto Rhapsody with Boult:

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by Lance » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:02 pm

Since I have most everything Dame Janet Baker recorded (EMI/Philips-Decca), I did not get the EMI Icon boxed set. I cannot now recall what was in this set. But among the great Baker recordings is a large group of Schubert songs accompanied by the venerable Gerald Moore. I had the first LP incarnation on German Electrola. Eventually these songs saw the light of day on CD. The CD set came forth and included not only Gerald Moore's involvement but also Geoffrey Parsons (another superb assisting artist). EMI issued this on CD as 69389 [Dutch EMI 86251]. It may have also seen the light of day on other numbered issues. Also Baker's recordings of Mendelssohn's and Liszt's songs (w/Parsons, piano-Mendelssohn and Barenboim, piano-Liszt) that was issued on a two-CD EMI set [73836]. Indispensable in my view, as is her Philips/Decca five-CD compendium [475 161] of recordings made between 1961 and 1979. The Baker/Moore collaborations have rarely been even approached in their intrinsic beauty of interpretation.
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by Lance » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:06 pm

Yes, this is a stunning set, too. These three "Bs"—Baker, Berlioz, and Brahms—go hand-in-hand! She was just an incredibly gifted artist. It's hard to believe she turned 77 years young this past August 2010. Baker's Brahms Alto Rhapsody is comparable to Kathleen Ferrier's performance. I have always found some similarities in the quality of their lower voice range though Ferrier was more the pure contralto. Baker's mezzo range, however, was quite startling.
Jared wrote:I'm scarcely in a position to comment I'm afraid, but I love JB's voice.

You'll get far more thorough recommendations from others, but I love her Brahms: Alto Rhapsody with Boult:

Image
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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John F
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by John F » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:08 pm

She wasn't really an opera singer, but the early recording of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" is very fine:

http://www.amazon.com/Purcell-Aeneas-Ja ... 27&sr=8-11

This isn't from that recording, but I've got to post it anyway:

John Francis

dirkronk
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by dirkronk » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:28 pm

Lance wrote:Since I have most everything Dame Janet Baker recorded (EMI/Philips-Decca), I did not get the EMI Icon boxed set. I cannot now recall what was in this set. But among the great Baker recordings is a large group of Schubert songs accompanied by the venerable Gerald Moore.
Well, this is what's listed by an Amazon reviewer as being in the Icon box (5 CDs worth, and ostensibly all EMI):

Bach, J S:
Cantata BWV82 'Ich habe genug'

Arias and recits from "Christmas oratorio"

St John Passion, BWV 245 (excerpts)

Berlioz:
Les Nuits D'été, Op. 7

Brahms:
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53

Chausson:
Poème de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19

Elgar:
Sea Pictures, Op. 37

Softly and gently, dearly-ransomed soul (from The Dream of Gerontius)

Handel:
Messiah: He was despised

Selected Italian cantatas

Nos. 1 & 13

Liszt:
Lieder

Mahler:
Kindertotenlieder

Rückert-Lieder

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen

Urlicht (from Symphony No. 2)

Ravel:
Shéhérazade

Schubert:
Selected Lieder

Schumann:
Frauenliebe und Leben, Op. 42

Strauss, R:
Liebeshymnus, Op. 32 No. 3

Das Rosenband, Op. 36 No. 1

Ruhe, meine Seele!, Op. 27 No. 1

Wagner:
5 Wesendonk Lieder

A close look at the image of the box back shows that Gerald Moore is listed, but nothing more specific. Dang. In addition, the reviewer opined that, while most of the performances were utterly classic, the ones of R. Strauss and Wagner are less completely convincing. No matter, say I...look at all that Mahler (all with Barbirolli, I believe) and Elgar and Schubert...oh boy!

Cheers,

Dirk
Last edited by dirkronk on Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dirkronk
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by dirkronk » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:36 pm

John F wrote:She wasn't really an opera singer, but the early recording of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" is very fine:
Well...yes. But the same is true for Elly Ameling, whose pure sweetness of voice vied with that of Ms. Baker in convincing me, many years back, that all classical singers didn't have to bellow or "whoop" or ululate--and oh! I'm so glad that I found that out. At least these two beautiful voices led me to appreciate lieder and solo arias. Prior to discovering them, I'd avoided vocal artists like the plague.

Thanks for the link, John!

Dirk

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by Ted Quanrud » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:44 pm

Baker's marvelous performance of Elgar's "Sea Pictures," coupled with duPre/Barbirolli rendition of the Elgar Cello Concerto make this disc a must.

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by John F » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:13 pm

dirkronk wrote:
John F wrote:She wasn't really an opera singer, but the early recording of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" is very fine:
Well...yes. But the same is true for Elly Ameling, whose pure sweetness of voice vied with that of Ms. Baker in convincing me, many years back, that all classical singers didn't have to bellow or "whoop" or ululate--and oh! I'm so glad that I found that out.
Being an opera singer isn't about bellowing or whooping or ululating, though some do that; Gundula Janowitz, for example, yields to no one in purity and sweetness of voice. It's about the creation of a convincing character on the stage through voice and action, a quite different skill set from that of the concert singer. Janet Baker and other concert singers like Elly Ameling and Kathleen Ferrier made some operatic appearances, but this wasn't what they did best at or what their careers were about.
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by josé echenique » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:25 pm

The name of Janet Baker first came to me thanks to the High-Fidelity magazine who awarded her recording of Handel´s La Lucrezia their annual award, maybe it was 1974 or 1975, I was only 13 years old. Well, I bought the LP and fell in love with both Baker and Handel. She also has a Haydn/Mozart recital with Leppard that is extremely good. I would also recommend Charles Mackerras´s Judas Maccabeus because of her, Felicity Palmer, Ryland Davies and John Shirley-Quirk a gloriously sung set.
Another performance I much enjoy is her farewell performance of Donizetti´s Mary Stuart sung in English, it´s available both on dvd and cd and she is regal.
Also don´t miss the Colin Davis Cosi fan Tutte with Montserrat Caballé. Many say she sounds too mature as Dorabella, and they are right, her sound was of a mature woman, but all the same, she sings very well.

John F
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by John F » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:33 pm

[duplicate post]
Last edited by John F on Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by val » Fri Oct 22, 2010 4:10 am

Her Dido, in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and her Diana in Cavalli's La Calisto were unforgettable.

They are, in my opinion, her only great opera recordings. I am not a great fan of her interpretations of Mozart operas, even if her Vittelia in La Clemenza di Tito offers nice moments.

But she was remarkable in the Lied (Schubert and in special Brahms with Previn and Mahler with Barbirolli).

Other great moments: the Agnus Dei of Bach's Missa (with Klemperer), Elgar's Sea Pictures (with Barbirolli), Respighi's La Sensitiva (with Hickox) and, perhaps above all, Händel's La Lucrezia (with Leppard).

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:00 am

dirkronk wrote:
John F wrote:She wasn't really an opera singer, but the early recording of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" is very fine:
Well...yes. But the same is true for Elly Ameling, whose pure sweetness of voice vied with that of Ms. Baker in convincing me, many years back, that all classical singers didn't have to bellow or "whoop" or ululate--and oh! I'm so glad that I found that out. At least these two beautiful voices led me to appreciate lieder and solo arias. Prior to discovering them, I'd avoided vocal artists like the plague.

Thanks for the link, John!

Dirk
I'll take Ameling over Baker anyday of the week... :wink:
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by Lance » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:36 am

Well, they are two very different voices and would not fall into the same range category, Baker being the mezzo with contralto capabilities, and Ameling being the full-fledged soprano. Both excelled in lieder and art-songs and I believe Baker's repertoire was far more in-depth than Ameling's. I have collected both artist's recordings with great interest for years.
Chalkperson wrote:
dirkronk wrote:
John F wrote:She wasn't really an opera singer, but the early recording of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" is very fine:
Well...yes. But the same is true for Elly Ameling, whose pure sweetness of voice vied with that of Ms. Baker in convincing me, many years back, that all classical singers didn't have to bellow or "whoop" or ululate--and oh! I'm so glad that I found that out. At least these two beautiful voices led me to appreciate lieder and solo arias. Prior to discovering them, I'd avoided vocal artists like the plague.

Thanks for the link, John!

Dirk
I'll take Ameling over Baker anyday of the week... :wink:
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by josé echenique » Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:52 am

Image

And why have to choose one over the other when you can even have both together! :)



Lance wrote:Well, they are two very different voices and would not fall into the same range category, Baker being the mezzo with contralto capabilities, and Ameling being the full-fledged soprano. Both excelled in lieder and art-songs and I believe Baker's repertoire was far more in-depth than Ameling's. I have collected both artist's recordings with great interest for years.
Chalkperson wrote:
dirkronk wrote:
John F wrote:She wasn't really an opera singer, but the early recording of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" is very fine:
Well...yes. But the same is true for Elly Ameling, whose pure sweetness of voice vied with that of Ms. Baker in convincing me, many years back, that all classical singers didn't have to bellow or "whoop" or ululate--and oh! I'm so glad that I found that out. At least these two beautiful voices led me to appreciate lieder and solo arias. Prior to discovering them, I'd avoided vocal artists like the plague.

Thanks for the link, John!

Dirk
I'll take Ameling over Baker anyday of the week... :wink:

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:22 pm

Lance wrote:Well, they are two very different voices and would not fall into the same range category, Baker being the mezzo with contralto capabilities, and Ameling being the full-fledged soprano. Both excelled in lieder and art-songs and I believe Baker's repertoire was far more in-depth than Ameling's. I have collected both artist's recordings with great interest for years.
I have many albums by each artist but Baker's voice and phrasing always sounds forced to me, which is not the case with Ameling...
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Re: Janet Baker

Post by dirkronk » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:06 pm

josé echenique wrote: And why have to choose one over the other when you can even have both together! :)
I'm with you, José.
:wink:

Dirk

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Re: Janet Baker

Post by RebLem » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:08 pm

The 1966 Mackerras recording of Handel's Messiah is still, by far, my favorite recording of that work, and it features the work of Dame Janet Baker, among others. Her He was despised has been known to move me to tears.
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