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Brahms, Wagner, Mahler / Stephanie Blythe


Release Date: 10/05/2004 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 45702   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsRichard WagnerGustav Mahler
Performer:  Stephanie BlytheJerome GranjonAlain David ValckenaereJean Estournet,   ... 
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral EnsembleEnsemble a Sei Voci
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Here’s a splendid follow-up to Stephanie Blythe’s debut disc of Bach and Handel. She has a rich contralto voice of great expressiveness. And this collection is more enterprising than you might think: the Mahler ‘Abschied’ comes in the Schoenberg orchestration, and the Wagner Wesendonck are courtesy of Hans Werner Henze" - GRAMOPHONE

"These are uncommonly satisfying readings and thus are self-recommending. The Alto Rhapsody receives a pointed accompaniment, with incisive yet controlled string accents and tremolos, projecting a rare combination of restraint and urgency. The focused contribution of the men of the Renaissance vocal group “A sei voci,” better known for their renditions of Josquin, adds to the
Read more refreshing intimacy of Nelson’s reading.

Blythe’s reading of the Wesendonck Lieder is a melancholy reminder that one encounters these little Wagnerian gems far too infrequently in the concert hall. Hans Werner Henze’s orchestration abounds in somber reedy qualities that mesh eloquently with Blythe’s own vocal grains. The third song, “Im Treibhaus,” famously adapted from act III of Tristan, demonstrates the attractions and subtleties both of Blythe’s and Nelson’s artistry, and Henze’s canny understanding of Wagner’s rare chamber moods. Near the end of the middle section, Henze opts for some flutter-tongue and pizzicato effects that are surprisingly apt. The gushing sighs of “Schmerzen” remain focused, and the whole is shrouded in a halo of polished, salon-orchestra colors. And the final song, adapted from the “Liebesnacht” duet, pulses warmly. One never has the impression that these are solo vehicles, but rather closely twining, interactive textures; a striking feature of Tristan’s intricate score is thus reflected on the level of these songs.

Blythe’s sparing and strategic use of vibrato puts her in good stead in Schoenberg’s rarely heard arrangement of the long final movement of Das Lied von der Erde. (Actually, Schoenberg indicated and superimposed his desired reductions and timbral alterations in colored pencil over the published score of Mahler’s original). Never before have I heard the virtues of this salon-orchestra reduction so resplendently realized, and much of the credit should go to the lead instrumentalists, particularly hornist Daniel Catalanotti and first violinist Michel Guyot. Nelson guides a thoughtful, introspective reading that, however, never drags, and Blythe surpasses the small handful of altos who have assayed this chamber arrangement. One is left wishing that Nelson had found a tenor of equal musicality with whom to record the entire cycle. But then again “Abschied” is a rather substantial chunk in its own right, capable of standing alone, and shines when combined with the other alto showpieces that share the disc. Similarly strong and subtle inflections guide the orchestral accompaniment."

Christopher Williams, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1. Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Stephanie Blythe (Alto)
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral Ensemble,  Ensemble a Sei Voci
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
Length: 12 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/17/2003); Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/21/2003 - 07/23/2003) 
2. Wesendonck Lieder: no 1, Der Engel by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Stephanie Blythe (Alto)
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Hans Werner Henze.
Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/17/2003); Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/21/2003 - 07/23/2003) 
3. Wesendonck Lieder: no 2, Stehe still! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Stephanie Blythe (Alto)
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Hans Werner Henze.
Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/17/2003); Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/21/2003 - 07/23/2003) 
4. Wesendonck Lieder: no 3, Im Treibhaus by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Stephanie Blythe (Alto)
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Hans Werner Henze.
Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/17/2003); Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/21/2003 - 07/23/2003) 
5. Wesendonck Lieder: no 4, Schmerzen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Stephanie Blythe (Alto)
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Hans Werner Henze.
Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/17/2003); Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/21/2003 - 07/23/2003) 
6. Wesendonck Lieder: no 5, Träume by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Stephanie Blythe (Alto)
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Hans Werner Henze.
Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/17/2003); Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/21/2003 - 07/23/2003) 
7. Das Lied von der Erde: no 6, Der Abschied by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Jerome Granjon (Piano), Alain David Valckenaere (Bassoon), Stephanie Blythe (Alto),
Jean Estournet (Violin), Michel Guyot (Violin), Serge Soufflard (Viola),
Guillaume Paoletti (Cello), Eckhard Rudolph (Double Bass), Claude Lefebvre (Flute),
Daniel Arrignon (Oboe), Richard Vieille (Clarinet), Michel Giboureau (English Horn),
Olivier Voize (Bass Clarinet), Daniel Catalanotti (French Horn), Nicolas Guijarro (Percussion)
Conductor:  John Nelson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Orchestral Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1908-1909; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 28 Minutes 8 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: Arranger: Arnold Schoenberg.
Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/17/2003); Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris, France (07/21/2003 - 07/23/2003) 

Sound Samples

Alto Rhapsody Op. 53
Wesendonk Lieder (Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck): Der Engel
Wesendonk Lieder (Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck): Stehe still!
Wesendonk Lieder (Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck): Um Treibhaus
Wesendonk Lieder (Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck): Schmerzen
Wesendonk Lieder (Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck): Träume
Das Lied von der Erde : VI. Der Abschied (con/bar)

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