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Brahms: Symphony no 2, Alto Rhapsody; Schubert: Choral Works / Gardiner, Stutzmann, et al

Album Summary

>Brahms, Johannes : Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
>Schubert, Franz : Gesang der Geister über den Wassern IV ("Des Menschen Seele..."), for male voices & strings, D. 714
>Schubert, Franz : Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, D 583/Op. 24 no 1
>Schubert, Franz : An Schwager Kronos ("Spu'te dich, Kronos"), song for voice & piano, D. 369 (Op. 19/1)
>Brahms, Johannes : Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73
Conductor Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Following on the phenomenal worldwide success of the first release, SDG continues their Brahms series with a stellar recording of the second symphony. The recordings from this series are drawn from John Eliot Gardiner's two-year "Brahms and his Antecedents" project, which not only celebrated Brahms the composer but traced the roots from which Brahms drew his creative inspiration. On this disc, the symphony is paired with the dark and moving Alto Rhapsody and three choral works by Franz Schubert. The disc is elegantly packaged in the same style as SDG's acclaimed the Bach Cantatas CDs and the liner notes feature an in-depth conversation between Gardiner and composer Hugh Wood.

The 2nd installment in John Eliot Gardiner's exciting new Brahms series. Brahms' most popular symphony coupled with the richly beautiful Alto Rhapsody (well-known in earlier performances by Janet Baker). Lavishly packaged hard-bound edition will appeal to Gardiner's immense loyal following.

The Observer
John Eliot Gardiner and the ORR continue their Brahms symphonies series with this live recording of No 2, with the heartfelt Alto Rhapsody (soloist Nathalie Stutzmann) and three Schubert choruses as a bonus. Energy and meticulous phrasing truly ignite this score. Strings use limited vibrato, with judicious portamento and expressively varied bowing.

The Times
Gardiner's speeds are so relaxed that the music almost falls over. Still, they emphasise the melancholic strain in a work easily pigeonholed as a lyrical effusion. You can also enjoy the wide colour palette of the period instruments of the Orchestre RTvolutionnaire et Romantique. Nathalie Stutzmann's expressive way with the Alto Rhapsody is a delight; and the Schubert items for male chorus make interesting companions.

Sunday Times
[The 1st movement's opening horn theme is] played on natural horn, already outmoded by Brahms's time...the phrase is lightly broken, in the baroque fashion. Such well-defined colours and detailed attention to articulation collide with the idea of this work as predominantly warm, relaxed and lyrical, and Gardiner sometimes scrubs perhaps a little too vigorously on the patina of inherited performance traditions. Still, he certainly provokes fresh thinking.

BBC Music Magazine
In the Second Symphony the period strings' lighter articulation gives Brahms's rhythms a sprightlier feel than in many modern sessions. ... in Gesand der Geister Gardiner avoids any awkward episodic feeling by making the music tell the story of Goethe's poem fluently and with character.

Gramophone Magazine
Gardiner quotes Walter Frisch's report that Brahms "disliked metronomic rigidity and lack of inflection on the one hand, fussy over- determined expressivity on the other". In the first movement, he and his period instrumentalists strike exactly that balance. This is characterful music-making, complex and subtle.

The Independent on Sunday
Orchestre Romantique et RTvolutionnaire's sound is vivid and clear. Nathalie Stutzmann's "Alto Rhapsody" is tenderly shaped, depthless, elegant... this is an arresting and impressive performance.

MusicWeb International
Last year I made the CD of the First Symphony one of my Recordings of the Year. This latest instalment will be on the shortlist for 2009, I feel sure - unless SDG trump this particular ace by releasing Symphony 3 before the year end. One can live in hope.



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Works Details

>Brahms, Johannes : Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Ensemble: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
  • Running Time: 12 min. 57 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1869
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Schubert, Franz : Gesang der Geister über den Wassern IV ("Des Menschen Seele..."), for male voices & strings, D. 714
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Ensemble: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
  • Running Time: 12 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 02/1821
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Schubert, Franz : Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, D 583/Op. 24 no 1
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Ensemble: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
  • Notes: Composition written: 09/1817.
  • Running Time: 2 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Vocal
  • Written: 09/1817
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Schubert, Franz : An Schwager Kronos ("Spu'te dich, Kronos"), song for voice & piano, D. 369 (Op. 19/1)
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Ensemble: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
  • Running Time: 2 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1816
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Brahms, Johannes : Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 73
  • Conductor: John Gardiner
  • Ensemble: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
  • Running Time: 43 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1877
  • Studio/Live: Live