One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


16th-19th November


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Johannes BRAHMS (1883-1897)
Complete Duets & Quartets
Juliane Banse (soprano)
Ingeborg Danz (mezzo-soprano)
Iris Vermillion (mezzo-soprano)
Christoph Prégardien (tenor)
Marcus Ullmann (tenor)
Andreas Schmidt (baritone)
Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Wolfram Rieger (piano) (op.52/65)
Marianne Beate Kielland (alto)
rec. Kleiner Sendesaal (rbb), Berlin, April 1997, September 1999, September 2001, May 2003
CPO 777 537-2 [3 CDs: 149.25]

‘Charming’ is not perhaps the first adjective that comes to mind when we think of Brahms, but it is a term absolutely apt for this collection. Many people – perhaps too many – know Brahms just from his orchestral oeuvre, and it is too easy to think of him in terms of careful, classical structures, or even – from poor performances – as a little stodgy with thick textures. His photographs – especially those in full beard to match any of the most eminent Victorians – encourage the mental picture of someone serious, even solemn.

His songs tell a different story. There is no lack of craftsmanship – Brahms took as much care with his songs as with all his other work, destroying many which did not meet his fastidious standards. Yet within the songs we find humour, elegance and a keen ear for melody and variety.

This set has many delights, as for instance in the four duets (op.61) that open the second CD. These come from 1874. There is a folk-like simplicity. The first of the duets (each is for soprano and mezzo) Die Schwestern (‘The Sisters’) is in the Magyar idiom, and is about two close sisters loving the same boy. The interplay of the voices is delightful, but notice also the artistry of the switch from the agreement of voices in the upbeat opening to the subtle change in tone when the disagreement in love emerges in the final lines. A lesser artist might have chosen a more abrupt transition, as a dramatic trick, but Brahms economically reminds us of both the differences and the underlying unity of the partnership.

In the second duet, Klosterfraülein (‘Little Nun’) there is a simple lament of loneliness, as there is the brief tale (also set by Schumann in Romanzen of 1849) of the reluctant nun committed to the convent by her mother. The result is an affecting miniature of under two minutes, with moments of both vocal beauty and fascinating commentary – and moments of silence – from the accompanist. In the two remaining duets, simplicity gives way to greater elaboration.

I chose Opus 61 at random, to illustrate both the beauty and delights of the work here.

This collection – to which I shall often return – completes cpo’s series of all Brahms’ Leider. It is a triumphant conclusion – each of the singers is highly accomplished, and each CD makes a satisfying programme for late night listening. It is good that chronological order is strictly maintained – one can follow the development in Brahms’ artistry. Notes are full and informative – other companies please note – with complete texts and translations (no messing about looking online). The one quibble would be to ask why the compilation could not be contained on two discs rather than three, but if that is the worst that can be said of this set, why quibble?

Michael Wilkinson
  
Contents
CD1
3 Duette op. 20 [7.43]
4 Duette op.28 [10.73]
3 Quartette op.31 [10.45]
Liebesliederwalzer op.52 [22.03]
CD2
4 Duette op.61 [8.15]
3 Quartette op. 64 [11.23]
Neue Liebeslieder op. 65 [19.32]
5 Duette op.66 [9.33]
CD3
4 Quartette op.92 [10.19]
Zigeuner Lieder op. 103 [17.15]
6 Quartette op.112 [9.44]

 

 




Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger