Johannes Brahms – Werke fur Chor und Orchester – Collegium Vocale Gent, Orchestre des Champs-Elysees, Philippe Herreweghe (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1 kHz | Time – 00:56:15 minutes | 5245 MB | Genre: Classical, Choral
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Phi / Outhere Label Group
Recorded: 18-20 July 2011, Warsaw, Polskie Radio, Witold Lutoslawski Studio
For his 3rd album on Phi, his new label published by the group Outhere, Philippe Herreweghe has brought together a splendid set of artists in the Lutoslawski hall in Warsaw. Ann Hallenberg, whose voice won over the public of some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, takes on the Rhapsody for contralto solo and men’s chorus by Brahms while the rest of the programme leads the listener through his essential works for chorus and orchestra. Herreweghe’s long-time affinity with the composer of A German Requiem has enabled him to provide a coherent and personal vision of those musical pages in which Brahms gave free course to his most intimate thoughts. Collegium Vocale Gent is joined in this endeavour by the members of the Accademia Chigiana of Sienna with whom it formed a European ensemble that was officially recognised as Cultural Ambassador of the European Union just a few months ago. Together with the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées and its authentic instrumentarium, this great choir interprets the Burial Song, the Song of Destiny, the Song of the Fates and the motet Warum ist das Licht gegeben. A great moment for all admirers of Brahms and fans of choral singing at its very best!
Brahms’ works for chorus account for a significant part of his output, far greater than would be guessed by the frequency of their performances in modern times, apart from Ein deutsches Requiem. His music for mixed choirs and women’s voices, either a cappella or accompanied by piano, are the works that were the most often performed during his lifetime because of their dissemination through the proliferation of amateur community choirs of the era. He wrote relatively few works for chorus and orchestra, most of them in the later part of his career, and this CD brings together an attractive selection of five of them. The most familiar are the Rhapsodie for alto, men’s voices, and orchestra, Op. 53, and Schicksalslied for choir and orchestra, Op. 54. Brahms wrote them not long after completing his Requiem, and it’s easy to hear echoes of its depths of feeling and musical language in these shorter, but still profound pieces. Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89, his last choral-orchestral work, a setting of Goethe, also deserves broader exposure. It’s perhaps the most eccentric musically, filled with unpredictable shifts in direction, but it makes a strong mystical impression particularly in its haunting final moments.
The remaining works, the early Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13, and the motet, Warum ist das Licht gegeben, Op. 74/1, may be less likely to find wide audiences, but they are nonetheless satisfying and richly lyrical and are bound to interest the composer’s fans and anyone who loves sumptuous Romantic choral music. Phillipe Herreweghe leads Collegium Vocale Gent, a group he founded in 1970, and it’s evident from the easy give and take of the performance that there is fluid communication between them. The group sings with seamless phrasing and remarkable subtlety of dynamic inflections. Ann Hallenberg, usually known as a Baroque specialist, brings a light, pure, warmly focused mezzo to the Alto Rhapsody. The sound is clean and ambient, with a good sense of presence. –Stephen Eddins
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
1. Schicksalslied für Chor und Orchester op. 54 16’20
2. Rhapsodie für eine Altstimme, Männerchor und Orchester „Alt-Rhapsodie“ op. 53 11’34
3. Warum ist das Licht gegeben, Motet für gemischten Chor a cappella op. 74/1 10’13
4. Begräbnisgesang für gemischten Chor und Blasinstrumente op. 13 7’13
5. Gesang der Parzen op. 89 10’59
Ann Hallenberg, mezzo-soprano
Collegium Vocale Gent
Orchestre des Champs-Elysées