Amazon's imported review seems fair and accurate, especially in describing the too-distant miking of Baker in the long Chausson 'Poeme.' As with everything else on this CD taped by the BBC, she made studio recordings that are in better sound, and Baker herself was younger and in better voice. So this BBC Legends compilation will appeal mostly to fans. There's no doubt of Baker's greatness, and she gives her all.
The Chausson outstays its welcome, offering 27 min. of languorous melody when half that would do -- fortunately, the first half is the most inspired part. Evegeny Svetlanov, on a guest appearance from Moscow to London, seems like an unlikely conductor here, but he is sensitive and sympathetic. The Nuits d'ete from the same year, 1975, attracted me (after holding out for some years) because of Giulini's contribution. Baker's interpretation is the equal of what she did for Barbriolli in the studio, but Giulini's very relaxed tempos are a challenge, and frankly, I'm not sure they pay off entirely. The singer has no problem sustaining the long line, but the pace drags in Spectre de la rose, to the point that the shape of the text is lost. There's no freshness or ebullience in the two outer songs, either. I will concede that the interpretation becomes profound and moving in the three sombre inner songs. Others may be transported by everything, as the reviewer in the Gramophone was.
Baker participated in a splendid live recording of Gurre-Lieder that is now on a budget EMI two-fer. The conductor is Janos Ferencsik, and even though the orchestra and chorus aren't world-class, everything else is. If you want to hear Baker in the long Wood Dove soliloquy by itself, here she is in freshest voice from 1963. Norman Del Mar's pedestrian conducting is an offsetting gactor, however. There are enough of those on this CD that I can't quite give it the highest rating, much as I love Baker's singing.