Prime Baker + Prime Berlioz = One for the Ages
Nicholas A. Deutsch | New York, NY USA | 05/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These recordings, dating from 1969 & 1970, find mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker in her absolute prime, singing music for which she was ideally suited both vocally and temperamentally, and supported by 2 fine conductors and orchestras. In the case of the ravishing song cycle "Nuits d'ete" and the wonderful early cantata "The Death of Cleopatra," both of which the singer recorded a second time, the earlier versions are generally preferable. Particularly valuable is the recording of the last 2 scenes from Berlioz' opera "The Trojans" - complete with supporting singers and chorus - the only souvenir of one of Baker's great successes in the theater, altho' on stage she sang the role of Dido in English, rather than in the original French, as here. This is a superb assumption, ideally balancing the Classical & Romantic strains in Berlioz (Baker of course was a distinguished Gluck singer - a good warmup for Dido).
Any flaws? Well, Baker mispronounces the verb form "eut," as if it rhymed with "peu" (it derives from the past participle of "avoir," "eu"). That's about it.
The remastering strikes me as very successful (a far cry from the muddy Angel LP pressings I remember of the Gibson-led disc), and - glory be! - there are full French texts (including stage directions) and English translations. This is an essential CD."