Transfers of vinyl LPs to CD are not always an improvement, but this one is. The balance on the vinyl, which I have owned since it was issued in 1966, (it was the first Janet Baker recording I ever bought) is almost two mono channels, voice on one side and piano on the other. This CD is much better, with well-integrated stereo. I sense a slight lack of high frequencies but maybe this has been done to minimise tape hiss.
The choice of songs by Schubert and Brahms is imaginative and the Schumann of course is standard repertoire for a mezzo-soprano. Janet Baker's performances are basically beyond reproach. Her singing sounds so effortless yet there is immense technique there, from delicate pianissimo to powerful climaxes, all accurate and beautiful. She gets to the heart of the music in every song, so the final song of the Schumann does sound grief-laden, while the delightful Schubert Minnelied is so happy.
Comparing the Schumann with her later version with Barenboim is very difficult; they are both excellent. It is the usual choice of freshness and spontaneity versus experience and subtlety. Even though Frauenliebe und -leben is not my favourite song-cycle, I am very content to have both of her recordings. The Schubert and Brahms are to be treasured.