Berlioz: Les Nuits D'ete
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|1. La Fleur des eaux (Poeme de l'amour et de la mer, Op.19) - Ernest Chausson|
|2. Interlude (Poeme de l'amour et de la mer, Op.19) - Ernest Chausson|
|3. La Mort de l'amour - Le Temps de lilas (Poeme de l'amour et de la mer, Op.19) - Ernest Chausson|
|4. Villanelle (Les nuits d'ete, Op.7) - Hector Berloiz|
|5. Le Spectre de la rose (Les nuits d'ete, Op.7) - Hector Berloiz|
|6. Sur les lagunes (Les nuits d'ete, Op.7) - Hector Berloiz|
|7. Abscence (Les nuits d'ete, Op.7) - Hector Berloiz|
|8. Au cimetiere (Les nuits d'ete, Op.7) - Hector Berloiz|
|9. L'Ile inconnue (Les nuits d'ete, Op.7) - Hector Berloiz|
|10. Song of the wood dove - Arnold Schoenberg|
Chausson : Poème de l'Amour et de la Mort - Berlioz : Les Nuits d'Eté - Schönberg : Gurrelieder (extr.) / Dame Janet Baker, mezzo - London Symphony Orchestra, dir. Evgueni Svetlanov & Norman del Mar - London Philharmonic Orchestra, dir. Carlo Maria Giulini
This recording of works by Berlioz, Chausson and Schoenberg features Dame Janet Baker singing music that could have been written for her supreme talents--that nobility and evenness of sound, the control of emotion, the ability to spin long lines, and that special feeling for words. These are live Royal Festival Hall performances, the Chausson and Berlioz dating from 1975, the Schoenberg from 1963. Chausson's nostalgia-laden Poème receives from Baker just the right balance of passion and subtlety--one critic in the hall wrote of the audience being "spellbound". Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été is shaped quite magically, the orchestral sound beautifully textured, detailed lovingly observed. The despair and darkness underlying the four central movements are movingly conveyed. The Schoenberg takes us to the early years of Baker's career, the voice fresh and lighter in timbre. The death-haunted "Song of the Wood Dove" finds her identifying totally with music rarely performed at the time. --Andrew Green
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
As for the singing and the estate of Dame Janet's voice in this live recording, it captures her vocalism at perhaps its peak in unflawed dramatic power, and it is clear (even from the AMZN snippets) that she is in far superior voice on 17 April 1975 compared with the largely contemporaneous Previn studio EMI. Not only are both extremes of the range more secure, but her legato, breath control and shadings are truly a marvel of technique and beauty. By comparison, she was not in as good voice for the EMI. Svetlanov is also to be commended on fine work.
The Chausson was released previously as BBC Radio Classics 15656 91742 coupled with Margaret Price's live 1965 Scheherazade (Ravel) -- a gem of that artist's limited discography.
In this recording three works are featured, works quite different and each of the works has been recorded in perhaps better conditions than here, but the magic of her particular presence in music is demonstrated well. The recording opens with 'Poème de l'amour et de la mer, for voice & orchestra by Ernest Chausson and here the orchestra is the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov. Though Baker sings the work very well it does seem strange that such a minor work was chosen for this recording when a taste of Mahler or Britten would have been more exciting.
Baker is much more at home in the languid 'Les Nuits d'été' by Hector Berlioz. Her French diction is a marvel and the manner in which she caresses these songs is unforgettable. Carlo Maria Guilini conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra here and his usual mesmerizing approach to French music is missing. But the recording ends with the stunning 'Lied der Waldtaube' (Song of the Wood Dove) from Arnold Schoenberg's extraordinary "Gurrelieder" with a rather perfunctory accompaniment from Norman del Mar and the London Symphony Orchestra. For those who have either experienced a live performance of this great work or have multiple recordings in the library the turning point of the Wood Dove's song is one of the finest pieces for mezzo-soprano and orchestra. Hearing how Baker breathes mystery into this work is alone reason for adding this tribute to her gifts to the library. This is a fine tribute to a brilliant artist. Grady Harp, January 11
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.