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Brahms’s first connection with choral music came in 1857, and his first appointment in Vienna, in 1863, was to conduct the Singakademie. He premièred A German Requiem in the city and wrote widely for choral forces, taking a variety of poetic source material. Begräbnisgesang (Funeral Hymn) evinces a great feeling of solemnity, whilst Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) is an urgent, volatile work. Nänie was written as a lament for the death of the painter Anselm Feuerbach, and the Alto Rhapsody has remained one of the greatest works for contralto in the repertoire.
Johannes Brahms: Ave Maria, Op. 12
Ave Maria, Op. 12
Johannes Brahms: Begrabnisgesang, Op. 13
Begrabnisgesang, Op. 13
Johannes Brahms: Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
Johannes Brahms: Schicksalslied, Op. 54
Schicksalslied, Op. 54
Johannes Brahms: Nanie, Op. 82
Nanie, Op. 82
Johannes Brahms: Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89
Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89
“The large Warsaw Philharmonic Choir has a welcome solidity, unanimity and warmth of tone...Wit's tempos tend to be on the brisk side - especially in the Gesang der Parzen, a performance that illuminates that piece's Baroque roots but somewhat mislays its underlying sense of tragic mystery...the field is crowded these days, but this new Naxos offering will be competitive at its budget price.”
“Ewa Wolak is a rich-toned contralto, without a hint of a wobble, who can evoke exactly the kind of lyrical drama which the lovely Alto Rhapsody commands...The choral singing is radiant in its glowing simplicity...this super-budget collection is marvellously sung and played.”
9th February 2012
“You might not like Wit's approach if you like your Brahms volatile. His conducting is wonderfully judged, if slow, allowing the music to unfold with a measured eloquence that often generates a sense of gathering implacability...It's the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir's contribution, superbly controlled and articulate, that is so sensational here, however. Their performance of Nänie, in particular, is among the most beautiful on disc”
“The performances are lean, light and powerful. The general approach is on the slower side, which sometimes makes the music static. The Alto Rhapsody is unhurried, even restrained - one of those readings that conquer you not by concentrated stress, but by beauty. The solo alto singing is almost operatic; Ewa Wolak’s voice is strong and even, without annoying vibrato...The chorus has a beautiful sound, very good diction, and is well balanced.”
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