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Mary

Janet Baker -BBC documentary

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I just watched this on iplayer- a very good film by John Bridcut who makes  sensitive and intelligent documentaries about composers and artists.

It is most interesting:  centred on an extended interview with Dame Janet herself, and including many fascinating interviews about her work and legacy, and is also terribly moving- a 3 hankie job in fact. I wonder if anyone else has seen it- I have searched but can't find any posts.

 

She is an inspiration.

 

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Posted (edited)

Many thanks Mary - I’d been meaning to catch this after reading the reviews but then didn’t find the time.  It really is a wonderful programme, so insightful, tremendously moving and uplifting.  Just seven days left on iPlayer:

 

Janet Baker - In Her Own Words: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00048q7 via @bbciplayer

 

I think this is a better link:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00048q7

 

 

Edited by JohnS
Better link
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Posted (edited)

 It was interesting as far as it went. The thing that I found most puzzling was that Janet Baker said nothing about the important part that Helene Isepp had played in her development as a singer and artist by introducing her to the Middle European music culture which had played a significant role in the development of the leider repertory. In the past she has spoken at some length and with great warmth about the part that Helene Isepp had played in her career. I was surprised that there was nothing said about her in the documentary. Was Baker silent about Isepp? That seems unlikely. Was what she said about Isepp cut because there was too much footage? Having allocated more than an hour to the programme surely the Beeb could have allowed an extra ten or fifteen minutes to enable Baker to place herself in context as one of the post-war music students in London who had benefitted so hugely from the presence of the large number of European Jewish refugee musicians who had made their home in London and other parts of the country? I should hate to think that the silence about Helene Isepp was somehow part of a new post referendum narrative of self sufficiency of the type that seems to be emerging in politics. It is so ridiculous. By the way Heather Harper who died only a few days ago was another young student who benefitted from working with Isepp.

Edited by FLOSS

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I really enjoyed this documentary, but did remark to my husband that there was almost no mention of her as a student, where she studied, how she got there, who taught her, etc. etc.  These are quite important parts of a singer's career that many people would be interested to know about.  

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I didn’t see the programme as attempting to provide a definitive account of Janet Baker’s career and training.  I thought it much more an exploration of loss and grief, centred on Janet Baker’s loss of her brother in childhood, and then the death of inspirational artists such as Kathleen Ferrier and Sir John Barbirolli.  Janet Baker eloquently described preparing for the end of her own operatic and recital careers.  And music’s offer of consolation was so richly illustrated, with astonishing insights from Janet Baker and other artists and friends, witnessing their reactions to some of Janet Baker’s finest recordings, in terms of their musicality and emotional impact.  I found the whole 90 minute programme profoundly moving, the BBC at its finest.

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John,  I entirely agree-  a most profoundly moving film, which was a meditation on a talent, a voice, a character and the nature of music in our emotional lives.

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I agree too, but I think even a quick mention of where she studied and who helped to encourage her early artistry would have been interesting as it would have happened when she was young and suffering from the effects of her brother’s death just a few years previously.  Knowing how she started studying singing and who helped her would have enhanced my understanding of this wonderful artist.   Not a big deal as it is a wonderful, raw and honest documentary about an artist.  A rare thing these days.  

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Just finished watching this - and was surprised to find I spent much of the last 10 minutes of it in tears.  It's an exceptionally good documentary - if it doesn't win awards for one-off classical documentaries I don't know what will! - and I'd urge anyone who's interested to watch it before it comes off iPlayer at 10.30 pm on Tuesday (it's an hour-and-a-half long).  What a voice!

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