ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Very Best of Janet Baker
PERFORMER: Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano), Gerald Moore, Daniel Barenboim, André Previn (piano), Cecil Aronowitz (viola); various orchestras & conductors
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 75069 2 Reissue (1965-81)
And it really is the very best. Only Cavalli and Berlioz are significant omissions on this two-disc compilation of music which defined Janet Baker’s perfectly structured career. Her legendary Handel and Elgar from the mid-Sixties remind us of that fusion of close intimacy and haunting distance which is unique to her artistry. And, the more it’s revealed, the more the mystery at its heart remains. There’s the wonder of her Schumann with Daniel Barenboim, the simple yet profound integrity of her English song. And her early Schubert with Gerald Moore, together with the single example of her Mahler, reveal a deep yearning, and an anguished yet serene awareness of mortality which is quintessential to Baker’s art.