Globalisation has perhaps liberated some music from a national straight jacket: until recently Dame Janet Baker’s recording of Elgar’s Sea Pictures cast a seemingly endless shadow but Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča and the illustrious Berlin Statskapelle under Daniel Barenboim gives a convincing and impressively idiomatic account, considering that little of the poetry is top notch and the scansion would prove awkward for a Non-English speaker.

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Her diction isn’t quite the equal of Dame Janet’s in all these songs, especially the “bigger” Sabbath Morning at Sea and The Swimmer , but she makes more than decent fist of most of the music. She is best in the quiet first piece, Sea Slumber Song , both a lullaby and nocturne which, in the hands...

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