Joan Baez's second album, recorded when she was 20 years old, is a hearty helping of folk masterpieces that give ample evidence to exactly how she was established as a leader of the contemporary folk scene of the day. In August of 2001, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 was reissued in an audiophile remastered edition, with new annotation and containing three additional songs from the same sessions – all are a match for anything on the original album, and "I Once Loved a Boy" and "The Longest Train I Ever Saw" count among the saddest, most emotionally enveloping songs of Baez's early career.
This 1987 best-of compiles the work from A&M efforts that marked a stylistic change from her Vanguard years, yet a pretty consistent level of success. Relying on the work of other artists seemed to be more hit and miss during the A&M era. In Baez's interpretations of songs like Bob Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate" and "Forever Young" and John Lennon's "Imagine," her pitch-perfect tone might strike some as unemotional, but her singing is engrossing nonetheless. Not surprisingly, Baez sounds the best here with the tracks that deviate from weighty issues. "Gracias a la Vida" (sung in Spanish) and the haunting "Di Da" (with Joni Mitchell) have her giving off more charm and emotion than usual. "Children and All That Jazz," from her best-selling 1975 album Diamonds & Rust, has a gorgeous, heavily produced '70s L.A. pop/rock style that suited her voice.
Bellini’s Norma contains one of the most impressive and also most difficult soprano roles in the whole repertoire of opera. Few sopranos can do justice to it. The first of those who have must surely be Maria Callas, considered the outstanding interpreter of the title part. The role, along with Bellini"s opera, was interpreted in a revolutionary fashion by Joan Sutherland (born in Sydney 1926). She is the protagonist in the present recording made at the Sydney Opera House in August 1978. "La Stupenda", as Joan Sutherland was known in musical circles, ended her international career in 1990. The celebrated production by Sandro Sequi, with Fiorella Mariani"s lavish décor and costumes, concentrates entirely on the human destiny of a woman on the edge of her existence. He intelligently brings forth the priestess’ emotional world, hence showing the many facets of Norma"s character. The whole drama of events on the stage is reflected in the orchestra pit, and musical director Richard Bonynge demonstrates once again his competence for great musical theatre.