One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
1. Liebestreu, op. 3, Nr. 1 [2:02]
2. Meine Lieder, op. 106 Nr. 4 [1:43]
3. An eine Äolsharfe, op. 19 Nr. 5 [3:49]
4. Auf dem Kirchhofe, op. 105 Nr. 4 [2:33]
5. Über die Heide, op. 86 Nr. 4 [1:44]
6. Im Garten am Seegestade, op. 70 Nr. 1 [2:14]
7. Verzagen, op. 72 Nr. 4 [2:29]
8. Es hing der Reif, op. 106 Nr. 3 [2:12]
9. Regenlied [1:22]
10. O kühler Wald, op. 72 Nr. 3 [1:59]
11. Wehe, so willst du mich wieder, Op. 32 Nr. 5 [1:13]
12. Gestillte Sehnsucht, op. 91 Nr. 1 [6:11]*
13. Geistliches Wiegenlied, op. 91 Nr. 2 [6:17]*
14. Mädchenlied, op. 107 Nr. 5 [1:37]
15. Die Mainacht, op. 43 Nr. 2 [3:26]
16. Ständchen, op. 106 Nr. 1 [1:37]
17. In stiller Nacht [2:20]
18. Von ewiger Liebe, op. 43 Nr. 1 [4:24]
Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo)
*Thomas Riebel (viola)
Irwin Gage (piano)
rec. no details supplied
ACANTA 233493 [51:29]

Experience Classicsonline

This disc is a reissue of a previously recorded recital, and in view of the quality that is on offer we should be very grateful for it. Brigitte Fassbaender is, for my money, one of the finest German mezzos of the post-war era. Everything I have heard her sing has been remarkable because of the rich expressiveness of her voice. That’s a quality that all great lieder singers have, but Fassbaender had something extra special, a soulful depth to her voice that few singers of any register could challenge. There is an almost implausible richness to her voice; every note seems to drip with emotion and meaning from a voice that is suffused with colour and expressivity. Her opera recordings are all special events, and a song recital from her has the ability to drag the listener through the emotional mill or to lift them out of themselves in a way that makes the experience unforgettable.
In many ways she was ideally suited to the songs of Brahms. The composer’s style of writing is more muscular and large-scale than that of his predecessors, Schubert and Schumann, and the densely poetic nature of his writing is just right for someone of Fassbaender’s gifts. Nearly all of the poems which feature on this recital are in some way equivocal, all is not as it at first seems: hope, when it is initially expressed, is often snatched away and initial despair can turn to resignation or acceptance. Fassbaender has the ability to take the listener on an intense emotional journey through each song. Take Auf dem Kirchhofe, for example, which begins with violent storms assailing the graveyard, but ends with transcendent hope of rising to immortal life beyond the storms of this world. Fassbaender changes the colour of her voice from the initial darkness of the storm through to the hopeful light of the ending, just as do the music and the poetry. Likewise, her interpretation of Meine Lieder is richly beautiful, but shot through with bittersweet longing; with Fassbaender emotions are never simple!
The quality of her word painting is exceptional. In Verzagen, for example, listen to the wonderful emotion on “Was weinest du?” or the understated sadness of Mädchenlied. Individual details are consistently highlighted, as well as the big sweep of songs like Ständchen, probably the only jolly song on the disc, but even this is invested with richness and depth by the power of Fassbaender’s voice. She is partnered by an accompanist of equal sensitivity in Irwin Gage, whose pianism is fully attuned to Brahms’ descriptive style: listen, for example, to the rolling waves at the beginning of Verzagen or the raindrops at the beginning of Regenlied. Throughout he brings superb tonal shading to the piano line, buoying up Fassbaender’s vocal line as a true partner should.
I could go on praising the quality of each song in turn, but I’ll save special mention for the two viola songs. Brahms adds a solo viola to Gestillte Sehnsucht and Geistliches Wiegenlied, a wonderful inspiration. This extra line gives to both these songs a layer of richness and splendour that elevates them to the level of something unique. For the Geistliches Wiegenlied the viola picks out the line of a carol that then undulates around the vocal line, while it adds an extra, chocolaty layer of sweetness to the atmosphere of Gestillte Sehnsucht which makes it one of the finest songs on the disc.
So far so good, but duty compels me to point out some of the problems of packaging. The front cover makes it clear that this is a re-release, but Acanta have given no details of the original recording. 1982 is alluded to in the depths of the small print, but this is not confirmed and no location is given. This lack of information about the recording’s genesis is annoying, and it would have been good to know more about how and why Acanta have decided to re-release it in this manner. More seriously, texts are provided, but the English translation is very weak. It’s in the archaic rhyming style which would have allowed the songs to be sung in English to the same metre, but this means you sacrifice accuracy and I found this irritating. Worse, the translations exist as a bunch at the back of the booklet: there is no parallel printing of English and German, so I found myself flicking between the two in a way that made me quickly lose patience. These things may not bother you, but for me they weaken what would otherwise be flawless and highly recommendable.
Simon Thompson 























































































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.