A specially priced bounty box of 8 generously-filled CDs in celebration of Helmut Rilling's 70th birthday, beginning 'a Year-Long commemoration of the master's craft'. He was the first to record all of J.S. Bachs major choral works, and this of later repertoire caught my attention. It has some of Rilling's discoveries – including the critically acclaimed "Christus" of Franz Liszt, Edison Denisov's provocative completion of Schubert's very substantial but sadly incomplete "Lazarus", a Mass by Schubert and two by Bruckner, Brahm's German Requiem and much else.
I have sampled Schubert's Lazarus and Mass in Ab upon receipt of the box, and will certainly return to the rest as time allows. I have been captivated by this music which I knew not. Excellent performances with numerous soloists, even though only of the a few names really well known, but high standards prevail throughout and there are some lovely voices.
Mostly done in Stuttgart, Rilling's home base, with his regular forces, it is a treasure trove, marred only by the paucity of solid information and lack of texts or translations, necessitated no doubt by budgetary control. For those who are prepared to listen to the works they don't know, such as Lazarus, Brahms Song of the Parcae and Franck's Les Béatitudes just as music, don't hesitate to acquire this useful assemblage of recordings from the last decade. But the interesting article by Dr. A. Bomba puts an emphasis on how "texts and their settings have put their stamp on the form and expression of the music" – there's a paradox.
The easiest solution for web visitors, who make up an increasing proportion of serious collectors, should be putting texts and translations on the Internet (especially as these are all out of copyright) – some record companies do this, often with sound extracts to help potential purchasers decide.
Copyright © 2003, Peter Grahame Woolf