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Brahms: Alto Rhapsody, Choral Music / Wolak, Wit, Warsaw Philharmonic Choir


Release Date: 01/31/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572694  
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Ewa Wolak
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic OrchestraWarsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a wonderful set that brings together those Brahms works for chorus and orchestra that, because they are not quite substantial enough in length are relegated to concert-filler, or are rarely performed because performance requirements can make them tricky to program. And of course, when it comes to Brahms, the German Requiem is what every choir singer wants to sing and what choir audiences want to hear—so these wonderful works tend to get overlooked.

But in most of these pieces, especially in the Schicksalslied, there are footprints and fingerprints and all manner of traces of the music of the Requiem (in fact, if you want to experience the musical sensibility of the Requiem in miniature, just listen to the 18 minutes of
Read more the Schicksalslied, written just after the Requiem’s final version was completed, and which also is one of Brahms’ most perfectly crafted expressions of text in music). And besides, there was no composer in 19th-century Europe writing choral music with the innate vocal sensibility, melodic facility, and command of choral writing on the level of Brahms; if you are a singer you know this, and of course will love listening to these magnificent pieces (perhaps the Begräbnisgesang doesn’t hold up quite as well as Nänie or Alto Rhapsody or Schicksalslied, but some will disagree).

I would be remiss not to mention contralto Ewa Wolak, whose voice and projection and expressive powers are, well, there’s no other word but “formidable”. Her Alto Rhapsody is one of the better renditions on disc. And the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir is one of the best in the world in this kind of repertoire, partnered with a truly outstanding orchestra—those strings give Brahms’ richest, warmest, most lyrical passages everything we, or Brahms, could hope for. Strongly recommended.

– David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Song of Destiny, Op. 54 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1871; Austria 
2. Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882; Austria 
3. Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
4. Ave Maria, Op. 12 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
5. Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Ewa Wolak (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
6. Nänie, Op. 82 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra,  Warsaw Philharmonic Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1881; Austria 

Sound Samples

Ave Maria, Op. 12
Begrabnisgesang, Op. 13
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
Schicksalslied, Op. 54
Nanie, Op. 82
Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89

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