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CD Review

Johannes Brahms

Choral Works, Volume 3

  • Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89
  • Rhapsody, Op. 53
  • Rinaldo, Op. 50
Anna Larsson, contralto
Stig Andersen, tenor
Danish National Choir/DR
Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Gerd Albrecht
Chandos CHAN10215 63m DDD
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This is the third and final release in Chandos' excellent series of Brahms' choral works with orchestra. The most substantial item on this disc is the cantata, 'Rinaldo' whilst the Alto Rhapsody is definitely the most popular. Somewhere in between comes 'Gesang der Parzen' which is a deeply introspective piece that has far reaching vistas as is explained in the excellent notes.

I was immediately immersed in the romantic soundworld of the 'Song of Fates' which is enveloped in darkness and foreboding. After reading Calum Macdonald's indispensable note I realized that most of Robert Schumann's children died early or went insane as did the composer himself and the music then took on added meaning. Albrecht and his Danish players impart that special feeling to the choral text that is sung with great feeling by the Danish chorus.

The same goes for the Alto Rhapsody although here Anna Larsson must yield to the rapturous beauty of Kathleen Ferrier in her recording with Clemens Krauss (Decca/Dutton) that remains my personal favourite. However the autumnal sound of the DNSO strings is indeed very beautiful and no one must feel short changed if choosing this performance.

Finally there is 'Rinaldo', an enigmatic work at best and I do feel that this is one of Brahms' least successful offerings in this genre of choral music. Sinopoli and the Czech Philharmonic (GD) brought a rapturous sense of discovery to this 40 minute piece although Albrecht seems strangely earthbound in his approach to the music. Stig Anderson is a competent tenor and on the strength of the previous performances on disc, I would not give the recording a "thumbs down". As usual, the sound and presentation are absolutely first class.

Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech