This excellent disc forms volume nine in CPO’s complete Brahms Lieder edition. It opens with the Zigeunerlieder, with mezzo-soprano Iris Vermillion. As would suit music of the Zigeuner (Sinti and Roma gipsies), the performances of these songs are fiery and spirited. They get the disc off to an excellent start. Vermillion’s voice is refined and mature, and she creates excellent shades of light and dark. I was particularly impressed by her well-paced rendition of Lieber Gott, du weist, wie oft bereut ich hab', and the appropriately impassioned version of Rote Abendwolken ziehn am Firmament. Helmut Deutsch’s piano accompaniment is superb - sensitive and sympathetic.
The following Funf Lieder op. 106 are performed by baritone Andreas Schmidt, who has an urbane and sophisticated voice. Auf dem See is wonderfully lyrical, and Es hing der Reif particularly beautiful - Schmidt here gloriously resonant, with flawless vibrato and absolutely perfect control of his voice. The Funf Lieder op. 107 introduce soprano Juliane Banse (in Das Madchen spricht and Madchenlied), whom I find a little breathy, yet she does captures the dramatic tension superbly in the brilliant Madchenlied.
The disc concludes with Vier ernste Gesange (Four serious songs), with Andreas Schmidt. Given that these songs are settings of Biblical texts - and could be claimed to be in the tradition of the solo sacred cantata - Schmidt imbues them with a fully appropriate sense of gravity. His performances are full of conviction and dignity - particularly his tender and beautiful rendition of the last song in the set.
The notes for this disc are a little heavy-going and abstruse (they are translations, so naturally not really ideal), although I was glad to see the inclusion of lyrics. The performances of these glorious late songs of Brahms’s, however, I cannot fault - exquisite songs and singing.
Full track list
He, Zigeuner, greife in die Sai'ten em [0:58]
Hochgetormte Rimaflut, wie hist du so frub [1:12]
Wist ihr, wann mem Kindcnen am allerschonsten ist? [1:32]
Lieber Gott, du weist, wie oft bereut ich hab' [1:17]
Brauner Bursche fuhrf zum Tanze [1:25]
Roslein dreie in der Reihe bluhn so rot [1:32]
Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn [2:00]
Rote Abendwolken ziehn am Firmament [1:15]
Funf Lieder Op. 106 [11.53]:
Auf dem See [3:08]
Es hing der Reif [2:25]
Meine Lieder [2:06]
Ein Wanderer [2:36]
Funf Lieder Op. 107 [6:14]:
An die Stolze [1:37]
Das Madchen spricht [1:15]
Vier ernste Gesange [19:22]:
Denn es gehet dem Menschen wie dem Vieh [4:55]
Ich wandte mich und sahe an [4:32]
O Tod, wie bitter bist du [4:27]
Wenn ich mit Menschen- und mit Engelzungen redete [5:26]