Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Happy birthday, Janet Baker

The great Yorkshire-born mezzo-soprano is 80 today. Michael Kennedy pays homage in the Spectator.

If you have the CD of Jacqueline du Pre performing the Elgar cello concerto, and you’d be mad not to, you have her version of Elgar’s song cycle Sea Pictures. People are sniffy about the poem texts, by Elgar’s wife, but Baker sings the hell out of them. There are many other classic classical CDs by her – she was fantastic in Bach, Berlioz, Britten and that is just the B-list. She was awesome in Mahler too.
So here she is in “Oft denk’ ich, sie sind nur ausgegangen” from Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder , aka Songs on the Death of Children.  Get out your hankies:
I often think: they have only just gone out,
and now they will be coming back home.
The day is fine, don't be dismayed,
They have just gone for a long walk.
 Yes indeed, they have just gone out,
and now they are making their way home.
Don't be dismayed, the day is fine,
they have simply made a journey to yonder heights.
They have just gone out ahead of us,
and will not be thinking of coming home.
We go to meet them on yonder heights
In the sunlight, The day is fine.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

What a great gift! I had not heard of Janet Baker and yet love the Mahler song cycle. The English translation is also new to me as I have, strangely, never wanted to know what the German meant. It has always been an aural experience, without question. A gift to your readers and a gift to Mme Baker.

Danke schone.