Janet Baker

Janet Baker Sings

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This interesting disc offers a sampling of Janet Baker's accomplishments in the area of Baroque music. A consummate artist who approaches every piece of music with meticulous attention and deep passion, always striving to bring to life the composer's intentions and visions, Baker, whether she sings Mahler or Handel, always commands the listener's attention. A case in point is her performance of Domenico Scarlatti's (of keyboard sonata fame) rather vapid and conventionally predictable Salve Regina, during which the listener feels tempted to set the music aside and admire the masterfully nuanced, subtle, and profoundly inspired singing. While the duets performed with Fischer-Dieskau (including Handel's two duets, Giu nei Tartarei regni, HWV 187, and Quando il calme ride, HWV 191) showcase the astonishing alchemy of two great artists under the spell of Handel's genius, nothing on this disc matches the tremendous emotional power and psychological insight of Baker's rendition of two heartrending arias (Ottavia's Lament and Ottavia's Farewell) from Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, in which Baker's rich and amazingly textured voice, moving effortlessly from an impeccable high register to deep, mournful timbres, finds a way to express the many varieties of grief.

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