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Anthology Of English Song CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Various Artists
  • Audio CD (26 Sept. 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Regis Records
  • ASIN: B000K9L3HK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,372 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

REG 1265; REGIS - Inghilterra; Classica Lirica Lied

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By S. H. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Oct. 2011
Format: Audio CD
This Janet Baker anthology of English song, recorded 45 years ago, has worn pretty well in transit from Saga LP to Regis CD, although recording techniques have greatly improved during this period, and we should not expect perfection in this regard. Fortunately, the same cannot be said of Janet Baker's inimitable voice when she was at the height of her powers. Her breathing control is always impressive, and the sound is at times almost inviolable. Her accompanist, Martin Isepp, is in complete sympathy with the repertoire...

... and what a repertoire! Here are some of the finest art songs in the English language, along with one or two that are certainly knocking on the door of such company. The programme begins with two familiar Vaughan Williams offerings - "The Call" (from Five Mystical Songs), and "Youth and Love" (from Songs of Travel), followed by two from John Ireland - "A Thanksgiving", and "Her Song" whose muted style corresponds well with Thomas Hardy's melancholy text. "A Piper", a sprightly Michael Head song to a text by Seamus O' Sullivan, may be less well-known to some listeners, but brings a welcome touch of Irish gaiety after the brooding melancholy of John Ireland, but the sombre mood returns with Armstrong Gibbs' "By a Bier-side" (to words by John Masefield). There is a well-known powerful setting of this text by Ivor Gurney, and Gibbs' effort, with its funereal rhythm in the piano, is hardly less impressive. His second offering here, "Love is a Sickness", is also a song of some standing.

Dunhill's "The Cloths of Heaven" (Yeats) is his best-known and most recorded song, so the chance to hear it sung by someone of Baker's class is welcome indeed. Lesser-known, but equally impressive, is the same composer's "To the Queen of Heaven".
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording actually was first issued in 1963 and may be the first of Janet Baker's commercial recordings. Fifty years on it is still a front-runner in the field of English song, now that it has been re-issued in decent stereo. True, the acoustic is more resonant than was normal for the day, although quite common nowadays, but this does not detract from the music.

In this disc of early twentieth-century songs Janet Baker already showed that she would explore the lesser-known repertoire just as much as the well-known works. The composers Michael Head and Thomas Dunhill are hardly well-known even today, and Finzi and Howells were hardly ever heard in the early sixties.

As for the performances, there is nothing much to add to the comments of other reviewers here. They stand comparison with any other recordings of these or similar works, and in most cases excel. You may grumble that there is less than 45 minutes of music on the disc, but then that was the ten-and-sixpenny Saga LP. In any event such quality as this is priceless.
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Other reviewers here on Amazon have rightly praised this wonderful recital of songs by British composers of the Twentieth century recorded in 1965 by the thirty-two year old Janet Baker, accompanied by Martin Isepp. It's true that it sounded on its original appearance in 1966 as though it had been recorded in someone's tiled bathroom - and it still does - but don't let that put you off. This is a beautifully chosen and planned recital with Baker's voice sounding miraculously young, fresh, supple and full, and Isepp's playing wonderfully flexible and entirely sympathetic to this particular repertory.

Regis has generously supplied notes on each composer by James Murray, and provided the texts of each poem or song. I first heard Janet Baker sing "King David" by Herbert Howells, with words by Walter de la Mare, on this record when it was first issued on Saga, back when I was twenty-two years old. I thought it was one of the most beautiful pieces of music I'd ever heard. Nearly fifty years later I have not changed my mind. Highly recommended.
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Words cannot describe the magic of this recording made by Janet Baker in her glorious prime. Who could ever deliver English Songs so artfully and so beautifully phrased as this. Its a must have. I had the original on LP and was so pleased that this has finally been released on CD for new generations to enjoy
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