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Masters of Romantic Choral Music

CAPRICCIO 67 136/38 [3 CDs: 68:26 + 69:30 + 66:19]

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1. Dmitrji BORTNJANSKI (1751-1825)

Ich bete an die Macht der Liebe [3:40]
Men’s Chorus of the Leipzig Radio Choir/Jörg-Peter Weigle
2. Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Tantum ergo D.962 [5:36]
Soloists from the Berlin Radio Choir, Berlin Radio Choir, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Dietrich Knothe
3. Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)

Ave Maria [3:23]
Vienna Children’s Choir, Chorus Viennensis/Peter Marschik
4. Max BRUCH (1838-1920)

Jubilate, Amen, op.3 [3:41]
Dorothee Jansen, WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra, Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
5. Felix MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY (1809-1847)

Elijah: "Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen über dir" [2:42]
Dresden Kruzchor/Martin Flämig

Mass no.6 in Eb, D.950. Credo: "Et incarnates est" [5:50]
Ildiko Raimondi, Bernarda Fink, Herbert Lippert, Helmut Wildhaber, Hugo-Distler Choir, WienerAkadamie/Martin Haselböck
7. Friedrich SILCHER (1789-1860)

So nimm denn meine Hände [2:50]
Men’s chorus of the Leipzig Radio Choir/Jörg-Peter Weigle
8. Joseph RHEINBERGER (1839-1901)

Der Stern von Bethlehem op.164: Die Hirten [6:19]
Dorothee Jansen, WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra, Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
9. Edvard GRIEG (1843-1890)

Ave Maris Stella [2:34]
Regensburger Domspatzen/Roland Büchner
Laudate pueri, op.39 no.2 [5:23]
Dresden Kreuzchor, Michael-Christfried Winkler (organ)/Martin Flämig
11. Franz SCHUBERT

Deutsche Messe, D872: Sanctus: "Heilig, heilig, ist der Herr" [3:05]
RIAS Chamber Choir, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Marcus Creed
12. Carl LOEWE (1796-1869)

Salvum fac regem [3:34]
WDR Radio Choir/ Helmuth Froschauer
13. Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Oratorio de Noël: "Consurge, Filia Sion – tollite hostias" [6:37]
Ute Selbig, Elisabeth Wilke, Annette Markert, Armin Ude, Dresden Kreuzchor, Dresden Philharmonic/Martin Flämig
14. Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Ein Deutsches Requiem, op.45: "Selig sind die Toten" [12:45]
Leipzig Radio Choir, Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra/Herbert Kegel

Der Lindenbaum [2:41]
Men’s chorus of the Leipzig Radio Choir/Jörg-Peter Weigle
2. Johannes BRAHMS

Waldesnacht, op.62 no.3 [4:20]
Regensburger Domspatzen/Roland Büchner
3. Edvard GRIEG

Landerkennung, op.31 [8:23]
Hans-Joachim Ribbe (baritone), Men’s chorus of the Leipzig Radio Choir/ Jörg-Peter Weigle

Ständchen, op. posth.135, D.920 [5:51]
Astrid Pilzecker (alto), Men’s Chorus of the Berlin Radio Choir, Bernd Casper (piano)/Dietrich Knothe
5. Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Frühlingsgruβ [1:42]
Dresden Kreuzchor/Martin Flämig
6.Robert SILCHER (1789-1860)

Loreley [2:45]
Men’s chorus of the Leipzig Radio Choir/Jörg-Peter Weigle

Ödipus, op.93 [6:01]
Berlin Radio Choir, "Carl Maria von Weber" Men’s Choir of Berlin, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Stefan Soltesz
8. Johannes BRAHMS

In stiller Nacht [2:01]
Münster Student Madrigal Choir

Nachtgesang im Walde, op.posth.139, D.913 [5:32]
Gerhard Mayer, Wolfgang Stahl, Dieter Fökel, Michael Schöppe (horns)
Men’s Chorus of the Berlin Radio Choir/Dietrich Knothe
10. Robert FRANZ (1815-1892)

Im Mai [1:09]
Thomanerchor Leipzig/Hans-Joachim Rotzsch
11. Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)

Frühlingslied [2:38]
"Carl Maria von Weber" Men’s Choir of Berlin
12. Franz SCHUBERT

Rosamunde: Hirtenchor [4:16]
WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra, Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
13. Johannes BRAHMS

All meine Herzgedanken [3:39]
Regensburger Domspatzen/Roland Büchner
14. Franz ABT (1819-1885)

Ave Maria op.533, III [5:41]
Men’s chorus of the Leipzig Radio Choir/Jörg-Peter Weigle
15. Johannes BRAHMS

Alto Rhapsody for alto solo, men’s chorus and orchestra, op.53 [12:09]
Marjana Lipvosek (alto), Friedrich von Spee Men’s Chorus, Radio Télé Luxembourg Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Hager
1. Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Tannhäuser: Einzug der Gäster auf die Wartburg [6:00]
Chorus of Bavarian State Opera, Bavarian State Orchestra/Hanns-Martin Schneidt
2. Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)

Die Lustige Weiben von Windsor: Mondchor [4:07]
WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
3. Albert LORTZING (1801-1851)

Zar und Zimmermann: "Der hohen Herrscher würdig zu empfangen" [9:41]
Franz Hawlata, WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
4. Conradin KREUTZER (1780-1849)

Das Nachtlager in Granada: Chor der Hirten [5:32]
Regina Klepper, Hermann Prey, Martin Blasius, WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
5. Albert LORTZING

Undine: Brautchor [2:03]
WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra Köln/Kurt Eichhorn
6. Louis SPOHR (1784-1859)

Faust: Blocksbergszene [7:54]
Martin Borst, Bo Skovhus, Franz Hawlata, Sündfunkchor Stuttgart, SWF Kaiserlautern Radio Orchestra/Klaus Arp
7. Carl LOEWE (1796-1869)

Die drei Wünsche: Pilgerchor [3:21]
Stuttgart Choristers, SWF Radio Orchestra/Peter Falk
8. Victor E. NESSLER (1841-1890)

Der Trompeter von Säckingen: Vorspiel und Studentlied [3:54]
Hermann Prey, Franz Hawlata, WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
9. Carl Maria von WEBER

Der Freischütz: Chor der Brautjungfern [3:11]
Bulgarian National Choir, Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra/Georgi Robev
10. Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)

Martha: Markt-Szene [4:55]
Franz Hawlata, WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
11. Heinrich August MARSCHNER (1795-1861)

Der Vampyr: "Munter, edle Zecher" [4:07]
WDR Radio Choir, WDR Radio Orchestra Köln/Helmuth Froschauer
12. Johann Joseph ABERT (1852-1915)

Ekkehard: "Mit schönste Blumenfülle" [3:03]
Stuttgart Choristers, SWR Radio Orchestra Kaiserlautern/Peter Falk
13. Carl Maria von WEBER

Euryanthe: Jägerchor [1:35]
Choir and Orchestra of the National Opera, Sofia/Georgi Robev
14. Richard WAGNER

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Finale [6:14]
Sandor Sólyóm-Nagy, Choir and Orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera/Janos Ferencsik
No dates or venues are quoted for these recordings.


The vast majority of these ‘Masters of Romantic Choral Music" are German, as you can see. And that’s not surprising, as these recordings are the results of collaborations between Capriccio and the various German regional broadcasting companies – West German Radio, Berlin Radio, Bavarian Radio and South-West Radio (SWR) – using their excellent choirs and orchestras.

Each of the three CDs focuses on a different aspect of Romantic choral music – CD1 being sacred, CD2 secular and CD3 operatic. I found this final disc by far the least musically satisfying, as most of the opera choruses come under the general description of ‘rousing’; the cynic might say that when you’ve heard one German hunting chorus, you’ve heard the lot! However, it’s not quite as bad as that, and some of the numbers are genuinely attractive. I particularly enjoyed the Bridal chorus from Lortzing’s Undine, with the fresh voices of the WDR Choir giving the music real sparkle. The beautiful ‘Moon Chorus’ from Nicolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor is based on music familiar from the famous overture, while the extract from Lortzing’s Zar und Zimmermann (Tsar and Carpenter) is the scene from Act 3 in which a farcical cantata rehearsal takes place. Lots of fun, though the lack of texts or anything else other than the briefest of plot summaries hampers more complete enjoyment.

The presence of music by numerous relatively obscure figures is sensibly offset by finishing each disc with a major masterpiece – Brahms German Requiem at the end of CD1, the same composer’s Alto Rhapsody completing CD2, and the finale from Die Meistersinger rounding off CD3. Nonetheless, some of the lesser known music is well worth hearing; Joseph Rheinberger’s shepherd song from his cantata The Star of Bethlehem is quite lovely, with its straightforward melodic utterance and sensitive orchestration (great number for Christmas concerts – choral societies take note!). Much of the music on CD1 is of similarly touching simplicity. Silcher’s So nimm du mein Hände is little more than a hymn tune, but when sung with the glorious tone and phrasing provided here by the men of the Leipzig Radio Choir, it is a memorable experience. Much the same goes for Grieg’s celebrated Ave maris stella, performed by Regensburger Domspatzen.

CD1 contains some other little gems. Bruckner’s Ave Maria receives a thrilling performance from the combined Vienna Boys’ Choir and Chorus Viennensis, the boys sailing fearlessly up to their top notes. Mendelssohn is represented twice; by his Laudate pueri for choir and organ, and by a chorus from Elijah usually rendered in English as "For He shall give His angels charge over thee". This is particularly interesting, as it is given a fine a cappella performance by the Dresden Kreuzchor. As this number has a full orchestral accompaniment in its oratorio context, it would have been good to know if this arrangement was made or sanctioned by the composer. Sadly, no such information is forthcoming from Capriccio.

CD2 has a similar ‘feel’ to it – some unaccompanied items, some with keyboard, plus one or two with orchestra. There is more truly superlative male choral singing in the Schubert items; Der Lindenbaum from the song-cycle Die Winterreise, Ständchen, and Nachtgesang im Walde, with splendid playing from the horn quartet that creates the forest atmosphere. There is a complete performance of Grieg’s stirring Viking drama Landerkennung ("Landsighting") and the disc finishes with a respectable, if not memorable, Alto Rhapsody, where, though Marjana Lipvosek sings expressively and intelligently, the male chorus is placed disappointingly far back in the recording.

A highly enjoyable and interesting compilation, then, demonstrating the special qualities of German choral singing and featuring some attractive rarities.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

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