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Brahms: Alto Rhapsody, Nänie, Etc / Blomstedt, Van Nes


Release Date: 01/21/2008 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 430281   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Jard Van Nes
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony OrchestraSan Francisco Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Decca's superlative recording quality sets the seal on an outstanding release.

The great surprise for me in the Decca collection is Jard van Nes's superb performance of the Alto Rhapsody. When MK reviewed the Dutch mezzo's performance in Eliahu Inbal's Denon recording of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde ((CD) CO-72605, 1/89), he admired the voice but felt that van Nes did little more than sing the notes. Less than two years later she has clearly developed greatly as an artist. Yes, her warm, clear timbre is a joy in itself, but her singing also has much character and feeling. In fact I would say that her performance of the Rhapsody is possibly the best really modern version available, since Lipovsek on DG is a little more
Read more remote from the words, a little more dry-eyed. Blomstedt's watchful, imaginative conducting yields also nothing to that of Abbado. EMI have reissued two superlative performances of the Rhapsody on their mid-price Studio label, however, and no modern version can quite rival the artistry of Dame Janet Baker, with Boult, or Christa Ludwig, with Klemperer.

Robert Shaw's Telarc/Conifer CD contains the same programme as that of Blomstedt's, except that Blomstedt's disc also provides the stark, but evocative Begrabnisgesang, which is a very worthwhile additional item. In all other respects too, Blomstedt's disc is superior to that of Shaw. When she recorded the Alto Rhapsody Marilyn Horne was not far short of 60 years old, and I fear that by that stage her vocal resources were sadly below par. Shaw's Atlanta Symphony Chorus is very fine indeed, and tonally it has the edge on Blomstedt's very good San Francisco Symphony Chorus. But the San Franciscans sing their words more clearly, and have a seemingly greater awareness of their meaning. There is also a certain lack of imagination in Shaw's conducting. Each work has a profoundly serious text, and the music can sound a little grey if it is not strongly characterized. When listening to Shaw's disc I was reminded of Walter Legge's irreverant description of Brahms as ''gloomy Joe''. With Blomstedt there is no gloom, but plenty of strength, light and drama. As examples of his imaginative direction I would instance the way in which he brings an heroic, stoical quality to the song of lamentation which comprises Nanie, also the manner in which he contrasts the opening section of the Schicksalslied, which has an evocative grace and elegance in his hands, with the more turbulent second part, in which he brings out successive feelings of anger, uncertainty and then resignation. The Gesang der Parzen also comes to life vividly. ''Let mankind fear the gods!'' sings Blomstedt's chorus, and the feeling of man in the grip of superior beings is very apparent.

Decca's superlative recording quality sets the seal on an outstanding release.'

-- Gramophone, 8/1990
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Works on This Recording

1.
Gesang der Parzen, Op. 89 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 11 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: German 
2.
Nänie, Op. 82 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1881; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 12 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Language: German 
3.
Song of Destiny, Op. 54 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1871; Austria 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 17 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: German 
4.
Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 7 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Language: German 
5.
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Jard Van Nes (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert Blomstedt
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra,  San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1989 
Venue:  Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco 
Length: 13 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Schicksalslied, Op.54
Rhapsody for Alto, Chorus, and Orchestra, Op.53
Begräbnisgesang, Op.13
Nänie, Op.82
Gesang der Parzen, Op.89

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