Dame Janet Baker

Mezzo-Soprano

Dame Janet Baker

Dame Janet Baker (born August 21, 1933) is an English mezzo-soprano best known as an opera, concert, and lieder singer.

She was particularly closely associated with baroque and early Italian opera and the works of Benjamin Britten. During her career, which spanned the 1950s to the 1980s, she was considered an outstanding singing actress and widely admired for her dramatic intensity, perhaps best represented in her famous portrayal as Dido, the tragic heroine of Berlioz's magnum opus Les Troyens. As a concert performer, Baker was noted for her interpretations of Gustav Mahler and Edward Elgar.

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38


Sir Adrian Boult was a supreme interpreter of Elgar’s music, winning accolades and awards for performances and recordings. Boult championed his music throughout his conducting life following the composer’s prophetic words in a letter to Boult in 1920, ‘I feel that my reputation in the future is safe in your hands’.

Boult only made one recording of The Dream of Gerontius, in 1975, of which the Penguin Guide enthused, ‘Boult’s total dedication is matched by his powerful sense of drama…the spiritual feeling is intense throughout’ while The Gramophone Guide ended their review with ‘Boult directs with commendable energy and typical humanity. A document to be treasured.’

This DVD represents the only existing film of Boult conducting The Dream of Gerontius filmed in Canterbury Cathedral in 1968.

The performance features a stellar cast of soloists: Dame Janet Baker, a leading interpreter of The Angel in The Dream of Gerontius, who recorded the role twice, in 1964 in Sir John Barbirolli’s famous recording, and in 1986 under Sir Simon Rattle; John Shirley Quirk who, with Boult, recorded a definitive interpretation of Peter in The Kingdom and about whom Boult said” J.S.-Q. […] was perfection and I don’t think any of the old guard could surpass [him]”; Peter Pears, who recorded the work in 1972 under the direction of his close friend Benjamin Britten.

The film uses the original BBC master which is far superior to the poor copies which have been in circulation over the years.

This was the first classical music production filmed in colour, for which Brian Large, “an understanding musician as well as a brilliant producer” in Boult’s words, had secured eight out of the nine colour T.V. cameras existing in the UK at that time. This DVD also features a 60-minute documentary on Sir Adrian Boult as a bonus. This film was produced in 1989 by the BBC to celebrate Sir Adrian Boult’s 100th anniversary.

The booklet includes a note written by Andrew Neil, from the Elgar Society, as well as a long extract from Sir Adrian Boult’s biography in which Boult gave his extended insight on the filming. The booklet also includes the sung text in English.

DVD format: NTSC

Picture format: 4:3

Running time: 100 mins (feature); 60 mins (bonus)

Subtitles: None

Menu languages: English

Booklet languages: English

Region code: 0

Territory Restrictions: None

“[Pears] is, in a word, magnificent. Shirley-Quirk is marvellous, too, in both his roles, and Janet Baker, inhabiting the Angel as only she could, is in a league of her own...the TV sound is remarkably good for its time and the quality of the solo performances... makes this a must-see.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

“A very important DVD release for Elgar lovers and admirers of Sir Adrian Boult.” MusicWeb International, 11th January 2017

“Boult’s handling of the Prelude, and his masterly accompaniment – especially to Janet Baker’s radiant final benediction – is so beautiful, so magisterial in its intensity, that it feels as though the score is simply being opened before us, its truths unclouded by any merely human ‘interpretation’…the accompanying documentary is excellent: full of fascinating, moving insights into Boult as man and conductor…a beautifully devised portrait of a great musician” BBC Music Magazine, February 2017 ****

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - December 2016

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

ica classics - ICAD5140

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Tippett: A Child of Our Time

Tippett: A Child of Our Time


Jessye Norman (soprano), Dame Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Richard Cassilly (tenor) & John Shirley-Quirk (bass)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Choral Society & BBC Singers, Sir Colin Davis

“Davis’s reading as a whole packs an enormous dramatic punch, and this is one oratorio that suffers not at all from being brought close to the opera house” Gramophone Magazine

Decca 20C - 4788351

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Elgar: Cello Concerto; Sea Pictures

Elgar: Cello Concerto; Sea Pictures


Elgar:

Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85

Jacqueline du Pré (cello)

London Symphony Orchestra

Sea Pictures, Op. 37

Dame Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano)

London Symphony Orchestra

Cockaigne Overture, Op. 40 'In London Town'

Philharmonia Orchestra


At the premiere of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in 1919, John Barbirolli – himself a cellist – was playing in the London Symphony Orchestra. When he recorded the work in 1965 he chose Jacqueline du Pré as soloist and she remains inextricably linked with this elegiac, but passionate work. Barbirolli’s special affection for Elgar’s music is just as evident in the glorious account of Sea Pictures with Janet Baker and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

25% off Original Jackets

Warner Classics Original Jacket Reissues - 2564607600

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Mozart: Requiem & Bruckner: Te Deum

Mozart: Requiem & Bruckner: Te Deum


Bruckner:

Te Deum in C major, WAB 45

Anne Pashley (soprano), Birgit Finnilä (contralto), Robert Tear (tenor) & Don Garrard (bass)

New Philharmonia Orchestra & New Philharmonia Chorus

Mozart:

Requiem in D minor, K626

Sheila Armstrong (soprano), Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Nicolai Gedda (tenor) & Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)

English Chamber Orchestra & John Alldis Choir


“The “Dies Irae” has what I can only call a fanatical attack and tempo, while ‘Hostias’, taken extremely slowly, is deeply devotional. Barenboim has, of course, a superb quartet of soloists, an absolutely first-rate chorus and an orchestra that knows how to play Mozart with the utmost artistry…You really should not overlook this exciting and most beautiful performance.” Gramophone Magazine

“[Barenboim] has an impeccable view for architecture...The quartet of soloists is superb, as much for their heartfelt identification with the text as for the musical sound they make...The singing of the John Alldis Choir has a commitment and urgency to it throughout...The playing of the ECO is never less than magisterial.” MusicWeb International, 11th June 2013

Warner Classics Masters - 4332932

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Holst: Savitri, 7 Part-Songs & Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda

Holst: Savitri, 7 Part-Songs & Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda


Holst:

Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, Op. 26: 3rd Group, H99

Osian Ellis (harp)

Savitri

Janet Baker (Sāvitri), Robert Tear (Satyavān), Thomas Helmsley (Death)

English Chamber Orchestra

Seven Part-songs, H162

English Chamber Orchestra

The Evening-watch, H159


The Purcell Singers, Imogen Holst

An inspired arrangement between Decca and Imogen Holst, led to a series of pioneering recordings of her father Gustav Holst’s music, which appeared on Argo and are now comprehensively released on CD as part of the Eloquence series. This collection highlights Holst’s fascination with mysticism and the Orient, with the inclusion of the Rig-Veda Hymns and the chamber opera Savitri, boasting a trio of luminaries – Janet Baker, Robert Tear and Thomas Helmsley – who, with Imogen Holst, give us a heart-rending performance of this episode from the Mahabharata, which tells how Savitri, the wife of a young woodcutter, wins back her husband, for whom Death has come, by the strength of her love and devotion The Seven Part-Songs, set to poems by Holst’s friend Robert Bridges are subtle and gracious, as befits their verses. Imogen Holst’s notes for the LPs – ‘acutely perceptive, objective and candid’ noted Gramophone’s reviewer Lionel Salter – are here reprinted as are the full texts.

Recording producer: David Harvey

Recording engineer: Kenneth Wilkinson

Recording location: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, October-November 1965

“this classic performance will be difficult to better’ … ‘Janet Baker gives a radiant and most moving interpretation of the title role” Gramophone Magazine (Savitri)

“The ladies of the Purcell Singers give atmospheric performances, with great purity of intonation and wonderfully clear words … the engineering of the whole disc is impeccable” Gramophone Magazine (Rig Veda Hymns)

“Unreservedly recommended” Gramophone Magazine

GGramophone Magazine

Re-issue of the Month - July 2011

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4802329

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French Songs

French Songs


Chausson:

Chanson perpétuelle, Op. 37

Delage:

Quatre Poèmes hindous

Ravel:

Trois poemes de Stephane Mallarmé

Trois chansons madécasses


An intriguing, evocative and exotic recital in which Janet Baker joined The Melos Ensemble for a journey through some of the twentieth century's most alluring French compositions for voice and chamber ensemble.

"A most beautiful recital... in (Chausson's Chanson perpetuelle) Baker expands and exultingly finds herself most at home. It's a strong, highly effective performance and marks a measure of the extraordinary way in which she has mastered the always rather special art of singing in French... The contributions by members of the Melos Ensemble - the Hurwitz Quartet, the flutes of Richard Adeney and William Bennett, Gervase de Peyer and Stephen Trier playing clarinet, Lamar Crowson (piano) and, very important, the harp playing of Osian Ellis - are of superlative quality." Gramophone.

“A classic disc if ever there was one. This beautiful recital was made in 1966 and sounds as fresh today as the day it was made...This may be placed among Janet Baker's most outstanding recordings.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4803670

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Bach, J S: Christmas Oratorio, BWV248

Bach, J S: Christmas Oratorio, BWV248


Johann Sebastian Bach performed his Christmas Oratorio during the festive season 1734/5 in Leipzig. It does not conform to the usual meaning of the word Oratorio in that it is not a single self-contained work but is split into six sections or cantatas for six different services between Christmas Day and Epiphany, indeed the soloists and instrumentalists employed are varied thus enforcing the view that Bach did not expect all six to be performed in one evening concert. There is the usual blend of choruses and chorales for the choir with arias and recitatives for the soloists with the Tenor also allocated the role of Evangelist.

This recording, featuring the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, together with soloists closely associated with the works of the composer and of international renown, took place in July and December 1976 in King’s College Chapel with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields under the direction of the Sir Philip Ledger, the then College musical director

“Recorded in the mid-1970s at King's College Cambridge, this is definitely a 'vintage' Christmas Oratorio. Soloists Elly Ameling, Janet Baker, Robert Tear and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau are on top form, and Philip Ledger's reading of the work brings out its majestic gravitas.” David Smith, Presto Classical

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Recommended Recording

Early Music

Warner Classics Gemini - 2176252

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The Essential Vaughan Williams

The Essential Vaughan Williams


Vaughan Williams:

The Lark Ascending

Hugh Bean (violin)

New Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

Linden Lea

words by William Barnes)

Dame Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano) & Gerald Moore (piano)

Fantasia on Greensleeves

Sinfonia of London, Sir John Barbirolli

Silent Noon

Ian Bostridge (tenor) & Julius Drake (piano)

English Folk Song Suite

(orch. Gordon Jacob)

London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

The Vagabond (from Songs of Travel)

Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor) & David Willison (piano)

Serenade to Music

(original version with 16 soloists)

Norma Burrowes, Sheila Armstrong, Susan Longfield, Marie Hayward (soprano), Alfreda Hodgson, Gloria Jennings, Shirley Minty, Meriel Dickinson (contralto), Ian Partridge, Bernard Dickerson, Wynford Evans, Kenneth Bowen (tenor), Richard Angas, John Carol Case, John Noble & Christopher Keyte (bass)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

Prelude on 'Rhosymedre'

Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Sir Neville Marriner

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Sinfonia of London, Sir John Barbirolli

The Wasps Overture

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

Loch Lomond

Ian Partridge (tenor)

London Madrigal Singers, Christopher Bishop

Ca' the Yowes

Ian Partridge (tenor)

London Madrigal Singers, Christopher Bishop

Five Variants of ‘Dives and Lazarus'

Jacques Orchestra, Sir David Willcocks

O Taste and See

James Lancelot (organ) & Ivan Sharpe (treble)

Winchester Cathedral Choir, Martin Neary

Bushes and Briars

Baccholian Singers of London

Wassail Song

Baccholian Singers of London

For all the saints (Sine nomine)

John Scott Whiteley (organ)

York Minster Choir, Philip Moore

The truth sent from above

Choir of King's College, Cambridge, David Willcocks

Little town of Bethlehem (Forest Green)

The Lamb

Ian Partridge (tenor) & Janet Craxton (oboe)

Scherzo from Symphony No. 7 'Sinfonia antartica'

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Adrian Boult

Orpheus With His Lute

(first setting)

David Daniels (countertenor) & Martin Katz (piano)

Mass in G minor – Kyrie

John Eaton (treble), Nigel Perrin (alto), Robin Doveton (tenor) & David van Asch (bass)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir David Willcocks

The blessed Son of God

Bach Choir, Sir David Willcocks

Come down, O Love divine (Down Ampney)

(trans. R. F. Littledale – v.4 arr. Williamson)

Thomas Williamson (organ)

The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune 'All people that on earth do dwell'

(William Kethe – Louis Bourgeois arr. RVW; version for brass ensemble and organ by Roy Douglas)

Benjamin Bayl (organ)

Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Stephen Cleobury


EMI - 2079922

(CD - 2 discs)

$14.75

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Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38, etc.

Elgar:

The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38

Enigma Variations, Op. 36


EMI Gemini - 5000612

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$9.50

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Schubert: Lieder

Schubert: Lieder


Schubert:

Gretchen am Spinnrade, D118

Suleika I, D720

Suleika II, D717

Schwestergruss, D762 (Bruchmann)

Schlaflied D527 (Mayrhofer)

An die untergehende Sonne, D457

Heiss mich nicht reden, D877/2

So lasst mich scheinen, D877 No. 3

Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, D877/4

Kennst du das Land (Mignons Gesang), D321

Berthas Lied in der Nacht, D653

An Herrn Josef von Spaun, Assessor in Linz (Epistel), D749 (Collin)

Raste Krieger, Krieg ist aus (Ellens Gesang I), D837

Jäger, ruhe von der Jagd (Ellens Gesang II), D838

Ave Maria, D839

Hin und wieder fliegen Pfeile, D239 No. 3 (Goethe)

Liebe schwarmt auf allen Wegen, D239 No. 6 (Goethe)

An die Nachtigall, D497

Wiegenlied, D498

Lied der Delphine, D857 No. 1

Wiegenlied D867 (Seidl)

Die Männer sind méchant, D866 No. 3

Iphigenia, D573 (Mayrhofer)

Das Mädchen D652 (Schlegel)

Die junge Nonne, D828

Am Grabe Anselmos D504

Abendstern, D806

Die Gotter Griechenlands D677 (Schiller)

Gondelfahrer, D808

Auflösung, D807

Die Forelle, D550

Rastlose Liebe, D138

Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D774

Der Tod und das Mädchen, D531

An die Musik D547

Frühlingsglaube, D686

Der Musensohn, D764 (Goethe)

An Sylvia, D891

Litanei auf das Fest Allerseelen, D343

Heidenröslein, D257

Nacht und Träume, D827

Du bist die Ruh D776 (Rückert)


“With Gerald Moore (who returned to the studio out of retirement especially for the occasion) still at this finest, this is a hugely satisfying collection...There are no texts, but this remains an unmissable reissue.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition ****

Penguin Guide

Rosette Winner

Warner Classics Gemini - 5862512

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