"It was a lover and his lass.."
Chris | NM USA | 04/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was sifting through the dregs of a mound of vinyl records at a thrift store a few months ago, when I came across an old library discard, with a photograph of some old English buildings on the cover. It had a big tan pocket for the library card firmly affixed to the front, and the name of the library was printed in several places. I debated whether this record was worth a dollar. Not being an opera officianado, I wasn't familiar with Janet Baker, other than the name. I didn't know what to expect, but figured it was worth the gamble.
When at last I listened to it, I was transfixed. The album, "English Song Anthology", is a collection of English songs primarily from the early 20th century, as sung by Janet Baker, with piano accompaniment by Martin Isepp. Baker's singing is remarkable; apparently she was in her early 30's when this album was recorded, and the songs showcase her remarkable artistry and vocal range. Overall, Baker conveys great feeling and emotion in each song, and Isepp's performance is a perfect match.
The quality of the recording itself is not ideal; however, the performances more than make up for any technical shortcomings, and the album does capture the intimacy and warmth of the original performance, which is no small feat. When I first heard this record, and every time since, I have been impressed with the intimacy of it, as if these two performers had settled into my living room to sing a few songs they loved. I suppose that is why I've become so attached to it, and it's nice to see that it's available on c.d. now- I am glad that this performance has not been relegated to the world's dusty thrift store vinyl bins. In fact, the digital transfer is well done, and I would recommend this recording to anyone. You may not realize it yet, but if you're reading this, you should have this c.d. in your collection.
Mira Frohnmayer | Eugene, OR | 01/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I share the last writer's comments about this recording. This disc, I believe, was on vinyl originally by SAGA records. I played and played the recording, and became a fan of English song even more than before I heard the disc. Dame Janet's vocal timbre and innate understanding of text make these compositions so compelling. And, as a teacher of voice, it provided me with a myriad of material that I hadn't known before. I am excited that the disc is available again. Martin Isepp's accompaniments are, as usual, sympathetic and supportive to the singer, but with a lovely understanding of the texts and musical aspects of the accompaniments, so never in the "shadow'. I also agree with the writer that the original sound level is not superb. However, the overriding fact is that this is an exquisite choice of music and a superb rendering of it. I highly recommend this recording to all lovers of vocal music."
Anna B. Wilkes | Knoxville, TN | 01/14/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a voice! What timing! What perfect phrasing! I can't utter enough gushy gibberish about Janet Baker. Aside from her hard-to-find, vinyl only "Treasury of English Song", this is my favorite recording by Dame Janet. Her voice has so much resonance and such emotion, but lacks the musty or flabby tone of so many other mezzos. She's perfect. She's just absolutely, utterly perfect. Several tracks move me to tears, and others still have nearly caused me to commit grievous moving violations, or trigger massive accidents due to my listening to this while driving. Sit down, get a glass of water, and listen only when you are in good enough health to have your heart shattered."