Episode 31. Janet Baker (Mezzo Madness II)

Episode 31. Janet Baker (Mezzo Mania II)

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Few singers have more affected my life in a more fundamental way than the great Janet Baker. This episode seeks to pay humble tribute to that exceptional artist. I have sought long and hard to find repertoire and performances that my listeners might not have heard before. While this is not an exhaustive survey (methinks a second JB episode is lurking around the corner), I do touch on many of the cornerstones of her repertoire, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Gabriel Fauré, Dominick Argento, and Gustav Mahler. I also feature composers less often associated with her, including Edvard Grieg, Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky, Hugo Wolf, and Peter Aston. Her musical collaborators represented in the episode include Martin Isepp, Paul Hamburger, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelik, Colin Davis, Geoffrey Parsons, Anthony Lewis, and Michael Tilson Thomas, among others. I present to you The High Priestess of Song. (I also pay passing tribute to the Swedish mezzo-soprano Kerstin Meyer, who died this past week at the age of 92, and Dusty Springfield, whose 81st birthday we celebrated posthumously this week.)

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Stan Vincent: O-o-h Child. Dusty Springfield [rec. November 1971]

Georges Bizet: Seguidilla (Carmen) [sung in Swedish]. Kerstin Meyer, Sixten Ehrling, Royal Swedish Opera Orchestra [rec. 1954]

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Youth and Love (Songs of Travel). Janet Baker, Martin Isepp [rec. 1963]

Peter Aston: Him I praise with my mute mouth of night (Northumbrian Sequence). Janet Baker, Martin Isepp [rec. 21 April 1966]

Dominick Argento: Parents [December 1940] (From the Diary of Virginia Woolf). Janet Baker, Martin Isepp [rec. Carnegie Hall 24 January 1976]

Traditional Scottish, arr. Marjory Kennedy-Fraser: Eriskay Love Lilt. Janet Baker, Martin Isepp [rec. 30 March 1965]

Franz Schubert: Die Götter Griechenlands. Janet Baker, Paul Hamburger [rec. 03 October 1965]

Franz Schubert: Abendstern. Janet Baker, Geoffrey Parsons [rec. 01 September 1980]

Johannes Brahms: Heimweh II [O wüßt’ ich doch den Weg zurück]. Janet Baker, Ernest Lush [rec. 16 September 1960]

Johannes Brahms: Komm bald. Janet Baker, Paul Hamburger [rec. 04 January 1968]

Hugo Wolf: Verborgenheit (Mörike-Lieder). Janet Baker, Geoffrey Pratley [rec.13 December 1970]

Johann Sebastian Bach: Erbarme dich (Matthäus-Passion). Janet Baker, Paul Steinitz, London Bach Society [rec. 18 March 1972]

George Frideric Handel: Chi vide mai… Benchè mi sprezzi (Tamerlano) Janet Baker (Andronico), Anthony Lewis, English Chamber Orchestra [rec. November 1972]

George Frideric Handel: Dopo notte (Ariodante). Janet Baker (Ariodante), Raymond Leppard, English Chamber Orchestra [rec. December 1972 (A&B sections) and December 1978 (da capo)]

Christoph Willibald Gluck: Che farò senza Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice). Janet Baker (Orfeo), Josef Krips, San Francisco Symphony [rec. 19 January 1968]

Maurice Ravel: Soupir (Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé). Janet Baker, Melos Ensemble, Bernard Keeffe [rec. June 1966]

Gabriel Fauré: Le Secret. Janet Baker, Martin Isepp [rec. Carnegie Hall 1969]

Hector Berlioz: Le spectre de la rose (Les nuits d’été). Janet Baker, Colin Davis, Boston Symphony Orchestra [rec. 24 November 1972]

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky: Adieu, forêts (The Maid of Orleans). Janet Baker, Martin Isepp [rec. Carnegie Hall 1969]

Edvard Grieg: Solveig’s Song (Peer Gynt). Janet Baker, Martin Isepp [rec. Carnegie Hall 1969]

Gustav Mahler, Von der Schönheit (Das Lied von der Erde). Janet Baker, Rafael Kubelik, Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks [rec. 27 February 1970]

Gustav Mahler: Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (Rückert-Lieder). Janet Baker, Michael Tilson Thomas, London Symphony Orchestra [rec. 1987]

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