Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Berlioz, Baker, Barbirolli|
Berlioz: Les nuits d'été, etc
Genres: Pop, Classical
Listen to Samples
Don't die, Dido!
altoman | Springfield, VA | 06/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes I find myself wondering just how record companies decide whether to record a particular artist in a particular role. This question automatically surfaces when listening to this disc. What was EMI thinking in not recording Janet Baker in the complete Les Troyens? She performed the parts of Cassandra and Dido at the Scottish Opera, and was called in at the last moment to fill in for an indisposed singer at Covent Garden--what a treat that must have been for the audience! In any event, this recording preserves her Dido in the final two scenes of Les Troyens, which raises very mixed feelings--bitter regret that her performance of this part was not preserved in its entirety, and gratitude for the fact that this magnificent singing actress's performance of at least PART of the role was preserved. Reviewers who saw her perform the part said that she had the acting gifts of Callas, but without the ugly top notes.The final scene is an utter tour-de-force, with Dido's emotions clearly portrayed. Despite Dido's unhappy end, the performance is absolutely inspirational. Not only is there powerful singing and acting, but Baker's French is clear enough that this limited speaker could understand it. Without question or caveat, Baker IS Dido. If there were nothing else on this disc, it would be worth every penny for this one scene.Ah, but there is more on this disc, and it is pretty remarkable, too. "La Mort de Cleopatre" was a prize-winning composition of the youthful Berlioz, but it neither sounds like, nor is it treated as, an immature composition. Baker once again demonstrates that singers can act with their voices--you can virtually hear the life ebbing from her at the end. Granted, Berlioz brilliantly composed the music in such a way that her approaching death was conveyed, but it still takes an artist to bring that music to life, as it were.The disc opens with Berlioz's song cycle Les Nuits d'Ete. Some of the reviews I have read have made me wonder what the reviewer was listening to. Although I cannot detect it, one reviewer speaks of the range of the first song as "taxing" Baker--but the first song has one of the more limited ranges of the entire piece! Others say that her French is not as good as Regine Crespin's. Duh. (Crespin approached this music more operatically, while Baker performs it as the first orchestral song cycle.) Still others complain that she is too happy in the first song. I can't say whether this is a definitive recording of this song cycle, but I can say that it is excellent and rewarding. Whenever Baker and Barbirolli got together it was an occasion on which the art of music was honored and served."