The Voice of Janet Baker


Janet Baker (contralto)
Martin Isepp and Ernest Lush (piano)

HTGCD290/91 – 5060332661343

Through her many recordings, Dame Janet Baker’s voice has been a constant presence in the lives of millions of people, so it is amazing to contemplate that she last sang in opera at Glyndebourne in 1982 and retired altogether in 1989, aged only 56. These two compact discs take us back to the beginning of her recording career, when she was in her late 20s and early 30s but already an experienced, accomplished singer. Two recordings for the SAGA label were made in the early 1960s, both of which feature here. The most important is perhaps the LP of English songs since she never returned to any of them on record. The lieder recital abounds with beautiful technique and tone. The two SAGA recordings are supplemented by a 1960 recital she made for the BBC Third Programme with Ernest Lush.

CD 1 50’

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) 
Frauenliebe und Leben op.42 
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) 

Heimliches Lieben D.922 [04:33], Minnelied D.429, Die Abgeblühte Linde , Der Musensohn D.764 
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) 

Die Mainacht op.43/2, Das Mädchen spricht op. 107/3, Nachtigall op.97/1, Von ewiger Liebe op.43/1
Martin Isepp (piano); recorded in 1965 for SAGA

Von ewiger Liebe, op. 43/1 (Wenzig)
Ernest Lush (piano); taken from a BBC studio recital, broadcast on 07/02/61. 


CD 2 78’

Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
The Call (1911, from Five Mystical Songs)
Youth and Love (1904, Songs of Travel)
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
A Thanksgiving (1938)
Her Song (1925, Songs to Thomas Hardy Poems)
Michael Dewar HEAD, (1900-1976)
A Piper (1923)
Cecil Armstrong GIBBS (1889-1960) 
This is a Sacred City (By a Bierside) (1924)
Love is a Sickness, Op.44/1 (1922)
Thomas Frederick DUNHILL (1877-1946) 
The Cloths of Heaven, Op.30/3 (1916?)
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
Balulalow (Trad, 16th Cent. arr Warlock)
Youth (1928)
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
King David (1921)
Come Sing and Dance (1928)
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937)
Sleep (from Five Elizabethan Songs)
I Will Go with My Father a-ploughing
To the Queen of heaven
Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
Come away, come away, death
It was a lover and his lass
(both from Let us garlands bring, Op.18, 1942)

Martin Isepp (piano);  recorded in 1963 for SAGA


O wüsst' ich doch den Weg zurürk, Op. 63 No. 8 (Groth); kuhler Wald, Op. 72 No. 3 (Brentano); Geheimnis, Op. 71 No. 3 (Candidus); Nachtwandler, Op. 86 No. 3 (Kalbeck); Wir wandelten, wir zwei zusammen, Op. 96 No. 2  (Daumer); Meerfahrt, Op. 96 No. 4 (Heine); Standchen, Op. 106 No. 1 (Kugler); Ein Wanderer, Op. 106 No. 5 (Reinhold) ; Regenlied, Op. 59 No. 3 (Groth); Das Madchen spricht, Op. 107 No.3 (Gruppe); Madchenlied, Op. 107 No. 5 (Heyse); Mondnacht, Wo021 (Eichendorff); Auf dem Kirchhote, Op. 105 No. 4 (Liliencron)

Taken from a BBC studio recital, broadcast on 16/09/60; Ernest Lush (piano).


  1. admin

    Performance: *****
    Recording: ****
    ‘Early recorded recitals of Lieder and English song are complemented by Brahms broadcasts from the same period; already Baker’s art is one to reckon with, and her voice unique.’

    George Hall, BBC Music Magazine, September 2015

  2. admin

    ‘Mandatory listening for Baker fans – a young voice, lighter in timbre than it became, used with intelligence and great beauty.’
    James Jolly, Gramophone Awards Issue, September 2015

  3. admin

    ‘These are precious discs, full of performances by a great artist at the height of her powers, sharing with us her insights into the riches of these works, and communicating them with such commitment and beauty.’
    Gwyn Parry-Jones, MusicWeb International, September 2015

  4. admin

    ‘Her reading of the Schumann cycle is one of radiance but also depth, the steady unfolding of heartfelt love. It is one of the great Frauenliebes on disc… this is a record of glorious lieder singing, beautifully accompanied with a warm-toned piano.’
    Music-Web International, July 2015

  5. admin

    ‘This Baker collection was and remains iconic… her voice is powerful, towering… Her tone is honey itself and if meticulous attention to the shaping and articulation of the words can now at times sound precious Baker’s musicality and intelligence carry the day’
    Music-Web International, July 2015

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