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Brahms: Rhapsodie, Rinaldo; Schubert / Rilling, Braun


Release Date: 11/14/2006 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98228   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsFranz Schubert
Performer:  Lioba BraunCarsten Süss
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gächinger Kantorei StuttgartStuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BRAHMS Alto Rhapsody. 1 Rinaldo. 2 SCHUBERT Gesang der Geister über den Wassern Helmuth Rilling, cond; Lioba Braun (alt); 1 Carsten Süss (ten); 2 Stuttgart Gächinger Kantorei; Stuttgart RSO HÄNSSLER 98.228 (60:07 Read more class="EXTRAS12">& )


This is a fascinating collection of repertoire, almost duplicated by a recent Chandos release—giving the collector a nice choice. The one difference between the two is that the Schubert choral work here is replaced by Brahms’s Gesang der parzen on the Chandos, thus making the latter an all-Brahms disc. The Chandos is stiff competition for this one, because of the superb singing of Anna Larsson in the Alto Rhapsody and of Stig Anderson in the fiendish cantata Rinaldo . But each disc has something to offer.


Tenor Carsten Süss manages Rinaldo fairly well here, but lacks the vocal heft and variety of tone that Anderson brings to it. Rinaldo is a major work by a hugely important composer, and yet it has been almost completely neglected by the music establishment. In almost 50 years of concert-going, I have yet to encounter it in a live performance. It is a cantata for tenor, men’s chorus, and orchestra—about a half-hour in duration—set to a text of Goethe’s, which in turn is based on Torquato Tasso’s 1581 poem describing the crusader Rinaldo. It is the closest Brahms ever got to writing an opera, and it is a work of real dramatic force and musical imagination, even if a bit unfocused and uneven in its inspiration. It surely deserves far more exposure than it gets.


Lioba Braun’s alto is rich and dark, though without the glow of Anna Larsson’s. She sings the Alto Rhapsody with intensity, not lingering over it to the point of stasis, as some do. Schubert’s Song of the Spirits over the Water is a lovely and atmospheric work for men’s chorus and strings, and it gets an intense reading here.


In general, this disc makes a very interesting contrast to the Chandos release. Otto Gerdes’s conducting on Chandos produces richer textures, a greater blend of sound, less crisp attacks, and a warmer sense of phrasing. Rilling, on the other hand, gives us a more “classical” approach—transparency, taut rhythms, and brighter colors. Both approaches are valid, though I have a preference for Rilling in this music. But the solo singing on the Chandos is glorious, and the Danish orchestra and choir acquit themselves nobly as well. Either disc is a valuable addition to any collection of Brahms—either the repertoire or the conducting style or the singing might serve to tilt your decision one way or the other. The English notes on this Hänssler disc are very clumsily translated and oddly conceived. And a minor point, but annoying: the printed timing from Hänssler is 64:40, when in fact it is 60:07.


FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

1. Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Lioba Braun (Alto)
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Austria 
Venue:  Live  International Bach Academy, Stuttgart 
Length: 12 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: International Bach Academy, Stuttgart (04/23/2005 - 04/24/2005) 
2. Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, D 714b/Op. 167 by Franz Schubert
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1821 
3. Rinaldo, Op. 50 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Carsten Süss (Tenor)
Conductor:  Helmuth Rilling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart,  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1863-1868; Austria 
Venue:  Live  International Bach Academy, Stuttgart 
Length: 36 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: International Bach Academy, Stuttgart (04/23/2005 - 04/24/2005) 

Sound Samples

Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
Gesang der Geister uber den Wassern, Op. 167, D. 714
Rinaldo, Op. 50: (portion completed 1863) -
Rinaldo, Op. 50: Final Chorus (1868 version): Segel schwellen!

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