LABELS: EMI Great Recordings of the Century
WORKS: Kindertotenlieder; Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen; Rückert Lieder
PERFORMER: Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano); Hallé Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra/John Barbirolli
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 66981 2 ADD Reissue (1968, 1970)
This peerless collection now returns in even more beautifully hallowed remasterings and with both Baker-Barbirolli recordings of the Rückert setting ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’ – its reverie is more inward, its anguished recollections of the hurly-burly world more intense in the first, Hallé version not featured in the previous CD release.
Odd blotches in the orchestral copybook include a glockenspiel playing a third too high and a Claydermanesque swirl of piano instead of harp in Rückert’s ‘Midnight Song’. They are obliterated by major miracles: the mesh of voice and personable Hallé woodwind throughout the Kindertotenlieder, the chastening unsentimental focus of the last ‘Wayfarer’ song, glowing vocal pianissimos that have to be heard to be believed. Only if you prefer, as Mahler did, a male soloist can you possibly want more; but then one imagines that if the composer had ever experienced the Baker artistry, he too would have changed his mind. David Nice