Day 342: Choral Music II

BrahmsCD36Beautiful music. Stirring. Moving.

But then the voices enter.

And the spell is broken.


The power of the choir in the first piece (Gesang der Parzen) is overwhelming. A very nice chorus, especially the female voices. Stirring.

The Composition:

Gesang der Parzen Op. 89

The Performers:

Danish National Choir/DR
Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Gerd Albrecht conductor

The Composition:

Rhapsodie Op. 53

Interesting opening. Ominous.

I’ve never been a fan of the alto vocal range. Annelies’ performance doesn’t change my mind any.

The Performers:

Annelies Burmeister alto
Males chorus of the Rundfunkchor Leipzig chorus master Horst Neumann
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Leipzig
Heinz Bongartz conductor

The Composition:

Rinaldo Op. 50 Cantata for tenor solo, male chorus & orchestra

The tenor vocal range, on the other hand, is my sweet spot. It’s my favorite vocal range. And Joachim Kerol sounds like a very fine tenor. Tremendous power. Really belts out the words. Love this composition!

The Performers:

Joachim Kerol tenor
New Paris Symphony Association Chorus – Orchestre Pasdeloup
Rene Leibowitz conductor

I’m sorry. Despite my better judgment, I’m going to have to award this a Favorite Brahms composition. The combination of Joachim’s vocal power and Brahms’ often stirring music (performed beautifully by the New Paris Symphony Association – Orchestre Pasdeloup) wins me over.

Day 311: Serenade No. 1

BrahmsCD5He had me at the French horns.

I’m a sucker for the sound of a French horn. To my ears, it’s incredibly mellifluous.

Brahms Serenda No. 1 in D Op. 11
is an absolute delight.

This is the first time (well, with his Symphony No. 4 closely behind) that I’ve been blown away by Brahms’ music. Serenade No. 1 is stirring, emotional, compelling, magical.

It’s music like this that made me want to listen to Classical music in the first place.

I don’t know what critics and fans think of Brahms’ early (1857) composition. But I like it. So who cares what others think, eh?

The musicians on today’s CD are:

Dresdner Philharmonie
Heinz Bongartz, conductor

According to its entry on Wikipedia:

The first serenade was completed in 1857. At that time, Brahms was also working on his First Piano Concerto. Originally scored for wind and string octet and then expanded into a longer work for chamber nonet, the serenade was later adapted for orchestra.

It consists of six movements and lasts slightly less than forty minutes.

Brahms was 24 when he composed Serenade No. 1. Perhaps his age has something to do with the exuberance I hear in this piece of music. It sounds like the work of a guy who’s trying to make a big splash in the Classical music world.

By way of contrast, Brahms’ symphonies were written decades later and they sound it. They’re sedate, even tame, by comparison.

Here’s what I’m listening to – and loving:

See what I mean? How could you not be stirred by that?

Day 261: Egmont


That’s an interesting title.

Or is it a name?

Time to let my fingers do the Googling.

Here’s what I discovered on Wikipedia:

Egmont, Op. 84, by Ludwig van Beethoven, is a set of incidental music pieces for the 1787 play of the same name by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It consists of an overture followed by a sequence of nine additional pieces for soprano, male narrator and full symphony orchestra. (The male narrator is optional; he is not used in the play, and he does not appear in all recordings of the complete incidental music.) Beethoven wrote it between October 1809 and June 1810, and it was premiered on 15 June 1810.

The subject of the music and dramatic narrative is the life and heroism of a 16th-century Dutch nobleman, the Count of Egmont. It was composed during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, at a time when the French Empire had extended its domination over most of Europe. Beethoven had famously expressed his great outrage over Napoleon Bonaparte’s decision to crown himself Emperor in 1804, furiously scratching out his name in the dedication of the Eroica Symphony. In the music for Egmont, Beethoven expressed his own political concerns through the exaltation of the heroic sacrifice of a man condemned to death for having taken a valiant stand against oppression. The Overture later became an unofficial anthem of the 1956 Hungarian revolution.


The Overture (“Ouverture,” as it’s listed on the back of the CD) is amazing music. Dynamic. Heroic. Melodic.

The performers on today’s CD are:

Elisabeth Breul soprano

Horst Schulze speaker

Staatskapelle Berlin

Heinz Bongartz conductor

Unfortunately, as soon as the singing begins, Egmont loses me. Elisabeth Breul’s voice is the kind of soprano I don’t particularly enjoy. Clearly, she is very talented. But her tone rubs me the wrong way.

The music is superb, however. It would be a tremendously enjoyable CD if not for the singing and speaking parts. The speaker’s voice is fine. It’s just German. And I don’t speak German.

The recording was made in 1970. But it’s crystal clear and vibrant.

Beethoven was 39 going on 40 when he composed Egmont.