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Brahms: Complete Duets & Quartets / Banse, Schmidt, Deutsch, Et Al


Release Date: 03/03/2017 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777537  
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Juliane BanseAndreas SchmidtHelmut DeutschIris Vermillion,   ... 
Number of Discs: 3 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

‘Charming’ is not perhaps the first adjective that comes to mind when we think of Brahms, but it is a term absolutely apt for this collection. Many people – perhaps too many – know Brahms just from his orchestral oeuvre, and it is too easy to think of him in terms of careful, classical structures, or even – from poor performances – as a little stodgy with thick textures. His photographs – especially those in full beard to match any of the most eminent Victorians – encourage the mental picture of someone serious, even solemn.

His songs tell a different story. There is no lack of craftsmanship – Brahms took as much care with his songs as with all his other work, destroying many which did not meet his fastidious standards. Yet
Read more within the songs we find humour, elegance and a keen ear for melody and variety.

This set has many delights, as for instance in the four duets (op.61) that open the second CD. These come from 1874. There is a folk-like simplicity. The first of the duets (each is for soprano and mezzo) Die Schwestern (‘The Sisters’) is in the Magyar idiom, and is about two close sisters loving the same boy. The interplay of the voices is delightful, but notice also the artistry of the switch from the agreement of voices in the upbeat opening to the subtle change in tone when the disagreement in love emerges in the final lines. A lesser artist might have chosen a more abrupt transition, as a dramatic trick, but Brahms economically reminds us of both the differences and the underlying unity of the partnership.

In the second duet, Klosterfraülein (‘Little Nun’) there is a simple lament of loneliness, as there is the brief tale (also set by Schumann in Romanzen of 1849) of the reluctant nun committed to the convent by her mother. The result is an affecting miniature of under two minutes, with moments of both vocal beauty and fascinating commentary – and moments of silence – from the accompanist. In the two remaining duets, simplicity gives way to greater elaboration.

I chose Opus 61 at random, to illustrate both the beauty and delights of the work here.

This collection – to which I shall often return – completes cpo’s series of all Brahms’ Leider. It is a triumphant conclusion – each of the singers is highly accomplished, and each CD makes a satisfying programme for late night listening. It is good that chronological order is strictly maintained – one can follow the development in Brahms’ artistry. Notes are full and informative – other companies please note – with complete texts and translations (no messing about looking online). The one quibble would be to ask why the compilation could not be contained on two discs rather than three, but if that is the worst that can be said of this set, why quibble?

– MusicWeb International (Michael Wilkinson) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Duets (3), Op. 20 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano), Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
2.
Duets (4), Op. 28 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Iris Vermillion (Mezzo Soprano), Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1860-1862; Germany 
3.
Vocal Quartets (3), Op. 31 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano), Marcus Ullmann (Tenor), Ingeborg Danz (Mezzo Soprano),
Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
4.
Liebeslieder Waltzes (18), Op. 52 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor), Wolfram Rieger (Piano),
Ingeborg Danz (Mezzo Soprano), Juliane Banse (Soprano), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868-1869; Austria 
5.
Duets (4), Op. 61 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Iris Vermillion (Mezzo Soprano), Juliane Banse (Soprano), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1860-1874; Austria 
6.
Vocal Quartets (3), Op. 64 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano), Marcus Ullmann (Tenor), Ingeborg Danz (Mezzo Soprano),
Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862-1863; Austria 
7.
Neue Liebeslieder Waltzes, Op. 65 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien (Tenor), Helmut Deutsch (Piano), Andreas Schmidt (Baritone),
Ingeborg Danz (Mezzo Soprano), Wolfram Rieger (Piano), Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Austria 
8.
Duets (5), Op. 66 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano), Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; Austria 
9.
Ballads and Romances (4), Op. 75 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Christoph Prégardien (Tenor), Iris Vermillion (Mezzo Soprano), Juliane Banse (Soprano),
Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1878; Germany 
10.
Vocal Quartets (4), Op. 92 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano), Marcus Ullmann (Tenor), Ingeborg Danz (Mezzo Soprano),
Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1884; Austria 
11.
Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Juliane Banse (Soprano), Ingeborg Danz (Mezzo Soprano),
Helmut Deutsch (Piano), Christoph Prégardien (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887-1888; Austria 
12.
Vocal Quartets (6), Op. 112 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano), Marcus Ullmann (Tenor), Ingeborg Danz (Mezzo Soprano),
Andreas Schmidt (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 completes? August 25, 2017 By Peter T. D. (Jersey City, NJ) See All My Reviews "Well ... not quite "completes" -- unless it includes the set of songs with viola obbligato? I don't recall them on the earlier disks (which were issued in opus-number order)." Report Abuse
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