Six or so years ago, I was asked to be on a panel to discuss the topic of "Definitive Performances" or something like that. The panel discussion never took place. I don't quite recall why, but I was relieved. I really didn't want to take part in it and I didn't even know whether I believed there was such a thing. I still don't know, but if I did, this Les Nuits d'été with Janet Baker would certainly be one of my choices.
When it comes to Les Nuits d'Été, the Régine Crespin recording with Ansermet has always been the acccepted gold standard. I remember listening to it until the LP was worn down, same thing with Crespin's recording of Ravel's Shéhérazade.
Coming across these videos of a live performance of Janet Baker singing these pieces with Herbert Blomstedt conducting was such a thrill! Her performance is utterly transcendent.
Having never seen Baker or Crespin perform "live" is one of my greatest disappointments, so this is really an amazing treat. No better way to start our journey into Mélodie.
After watching these, I would encourage you to also view the Crespin performance of Spectre d'une rose, which is at YouTube HERE. Crespin's approach focuses on the ethereal quality of the "spectre." Her ability to control her sound to achieve this is astonishing.
3 months ago