The Südfunk-Chor, Stuttgart is evidently
no average choir. They have the capacity to maintain the concentration
required throughout this programme. The actual works themselves
are carefully balanced. Brahms’s Op. 109 is a good place to start,
with antiphonal effects adding to the interest, and with the third
Motet, ‘Wo ist ein so herrlich Volk’, achieving just the right
uplifting feel. The Motets, Op. 110, continue the serious aura.
No. 2, ‘Ach, arme Welt’, with its rich textures and controlled
passion is particularly beautiful (QUOTE 1).
The Bruckner items show off the choir’s ability
to blend beautifully (QUOTE 2) and, if you only know Bruckner
through his symphonies, this may prove a revelation. Liszt’s devotional
side proves the ideal complement, with its rich textures. This
religious aspect of Liszt is less overtly appealing than his flamboyant
one, but it nevertheless is well worth exploring and puts a new
slant on the familiar.
Schubert’s German Mass, D872, subtitled,
‘Hymns for the celebration of the Holy sacrifice of the Mass,’
is a very beautiful expression of his personal faith. The fourth
movement, ‘Du gabst, o Herr, mir Sein und Leben’ is incredibly
appealing, almost a Christmas card in sound (QUOTE 3).
Unfortunately, one has to download the booklet
from the internet (from www.haenssler-classic.de),
an unnecessary hassle which may, understandably, put some off.
Nevertheless, this is a peaceful and beautiful hour and a quarter’s