Day 363: Female Choruses II

BrahmsCD57Instant Favorite!

This morning’s CD (Brahms CD 57) is not much different from yesterday’s.

Well, that’s not true. It’s similar in that it’s another CD of female choruses performed by Chamber Choir of Europe, conducted by Nicol Matt. But something about this music grabs me by the lapels, right from the get-go.

There are 19 tracks on today’s CD, all designated Wo038 posth.

Track 1 (“No.1 Die Entfuhrung”) is absolutely beautiful. The melody is stunning. The soaring soprano voice that rises above gives me chills.

Listen for yourself. This is the exact same music to which I’m listening this morning:

There’s something about that first song…

Even though it’s in German, its arrangement is so perfect that I’m not even hearing the language. I’m mesmerized by the angelic sound of the voices.

To give you an idea of how impressed I am with today’s music, I’ve heard it 2-3 times through. Just let Repeat take me away to another time and place.

I love finding music that does that for me.

I only have one more day of listening to Brahms’ music. Tomorrow is Brahms CD 58, the end of the Brahms Complete Edition box set by Brilliant Classics.

I had no idea Brahmns was this into vocal music. Seems like 1/5 to 1/4 of his output was vocal music – and all of it in German. No Scottish folk songs. No English folk songs. Just a bunch of German-language vocal music that seemed written to please himself more than others. Or maybe he didn’t see his audience as being broader than Germany/Austria or other nearby countries that spoke and/or understood German.

I’ll reflect in greater depth tomorrow on my last day of listening to Johannes Brahms.

Day 362: Female Choruses I

BrahmsCD56Despite the fact that this is yet another CD of vocal music, this one is hauntingly beautiful.

Brahms CD 56 is comprised of female choruses, all of which sound angelic. Or monastic. These are like Gregorian chants, only with female voices.

I like it.

So much so that I think I may have to label this one another Favorite.

The Performers:

Chamber Choir of Europe

Nicol Matt conductor

Day 359: Songs and Duets I

BrahmsCD53At least today’s CD is not just Songs.

It’s Songs and Duets.

That makes it so much better.

There are 22 tracks on Brahms CD 53, totaling 50 minutes. Two many tracks to list here. But I will list the performers:

Simone Nold soprano

Christian Elsner tenor

Gerold Huber piano

To be fair, the duets are interesting, even compelling. The singers are wonderful, especially Simone.

One song really stood out to me: Track 6 (“Feinsliebchen Wo033 No. 12”). The “la-la-la-la” part was fun. Really serious vocalists singing what amounts to background vocals for a pop song. The bouncy song put a smile on my face. By the way, the word “Feinsliebchen” translates, roughly, to “fine sweethearts.”

And, before that smile could be wiped off my face, the next track, Track 7 (“Mein Madel hat einen Rosenmund Wo033 No. 11”) continued the “la-la-la-la” chorus in a fun, upbeat way.

I just realized what I haven’t heard yet from Brahms – any songs written and sung in English.

If memory serves, even Haydn wrote many folk songs, some of which in English.

I wonder why no English-language songs from Brahms?

This CD is better than 90% of the Songs CDs that came before, for two reasons:

1. The songs are more upbeat
2. Simone Nold

I might even listen to this CD again. (Did I just type that?)

Day 349: Songs I

BrahmsCD43Oh, joy.

We switched from “Choral Music” to “Songs.”

What’s the difference?

Oh. I see.

Multiple voices. The former requires a choir, many voices. The latter requires just one voice, perhaps more. But usually one.

I get it.

The Compositions:

14 Songs (too many to name individually)

Zigeunerlieder Op. 103 (8 songs)

The Performers:

Christian Elsner tenor
Burkhard Kehring piano

Christian’s voice is pretty good. Not quite in the range of tenor that I enjoy (he sounds closer to a baritone with tenor leanings; but the hell do I know?). But he’s very good, with a lot of power.

And the piano is gentle and mournful enough – with enough depth of emotion – to be compelling.

Overall, these songs, although somewhat dirge-like, are strangely mesmerizing.

Even in German.

I dunno. This could be another Favorite – which goes against everything in me. Yet…

Day 346: Choral Music VI

BrahmsCD40You’re kidding, right?

Another CD of choral music?

Six in a row?

The compositions:

Zigeunerlieder Op. 103

4 Zigeunerlieder

Deutsche Volkslieder Wo033

13 Canons Op. 113

The performers:

Chamber Choir of Europe
Jurgen Kruse, Friederike Haug piano
Nicol Matt

Okay. Maybe Johannes has warn me down.

Or maybe I’m just tired.

But I like this choral music.

I even like the alto-range female singer in the Deutsche Volkslieder Wo033 compositions.

There’s something mesmerizing about the melodies and the interplay between the tenor and the alto. (Or is she a mezzo-soprano? I can’t tell.)

Anyway, I may have to give this Favorite status.

Truly, I must be losing my mind.

Day 344: Choral Music IV

BrahmsCD38I was tempted to write, “Please make it stop.”

But then I continued to listen.

And I noticed the beauty of the voices – especially the sopranos – and I my brain wouldn’t let my fingers type those words.

There’s something captivating about today’s CD of Choral Music, which features six compositions:

3 Gesange Op. 42

7 Lieder Op. 62

Lieder und Romanzen Op. 93a

5 Gesange Op. 104

Quartets Op. 92

from 6 Quartets Op. 112

Here are the performers:

Chamber Choir of Europe
Jurgen Meier piano
Nicol Matt conductor

Although I really can’t envision a time when I’d listen to this again, I don’t feel an aversion to it as I have Brahms’ previous Choral Music. I may have to (grudgingly) give this a Favorite award.

The voices are beautiful.

Day 339: Hungarian Dances Nos. 11-21, Misc. Piano Music

BrahmsCD33Brahms CD 33 begins on a somber note with Hungarian Dance No. 11 in D minor.

Of course, we all know what Spinal Tap‘s Nigel Tufnel says about D minor.

Here’s the scene:

[Nigel is playing a soft piece on the piano]

Marty DiBergi: It’s very pretty.

Nigel Tufnel: Yeah, I’ve been fooling around with it for a few months.

Marty DiBergi: It’s a bit of a departure from what you normally play.

Nigel Tufnel: It’s part of a trilogy, a musical trilogy I’m working on in D minor which is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don’t know why.

Marty DiBergi: It’s very nice.

Nigel Tufnel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like – I’m really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it’s sort of in between those, really. It’s like a Mach piece, really. It’s sort of…

Marty DiBergi: What do you call this?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, this piece is called “Lick My Love Pump”.

No wonder today’s Brahms CD starts off somber. D minor is the saddest key of all.

But it doesn’t stay somber. Other compositions are downright lively.

The pianist on today’s CD is Louis Demetrius Alvanis. He does a fine job with all of these odds and ends from Brahms’ repertoire.

I’m gonna have to classify this as a Favorite!

Day 337: Fantasien, Three Intermezzos, Klavierstucke II

BrahmsCD31Today’s CD reminds me of Chopin. It’s beautiful piano music with lots of ambiance, mood, emotion.

Favorite Brahams CD!

Here’s what I listened to today:

Fantasien Op. 116

According to this list of Brahms compositions by opus number, these were composed in 1892. Brahms was 59.

Three Intermezzos Op. 117

According to this list of Brahms compositions by opus number, these were composed in 1892. Brahms was 59.

Klavierstucke Op. 118

According to this list of Brahms compositions by opus number, these were composed in 1893. Brahms was 60.

Klavierstucke Op. 119

According to this list of Brahms compositions by opus number, these were composed in 1893. Brahms was 60.

Here’s who played it:

Hakon Austbo piano

Day 335: Variations: On an Original Theme, On a Hungarian Song, On a Theme by Schumann

BrahmsCD29This is wonderful music.

Instant Favorite status.

These variations are in turns contemplative, clever, and dramatic…full of pathos and verve. In short, these piano variations sound like life itself.

These are some of the most honest compositions I’ve heard from Brahms. Very little pretense here. This is music for the sake of music.

This CD would make perfect background music for writing.

Here’s what I listened to today:

Variations on an Original Theme in D Op. 21 No. 1

According to the IMSLP web site, these variations were composed in 1857. If that is true, Brahms was 24.

Variations on a Hungarian Song in D Op. 21 No. 2

According to the IMSLP web site, these variations may have been composed somewhere between 1853 and 1856, which means Brahms was between 20 and 23.

Variations on a Theme by Schumann in F sharp minor Op. 9

According to the IMSLP web site, these variations were composed in 1854. Brahms was 21.

Here’s who played all 43 short tracks:

Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy piano

Day 332: Piano Sonata No. 1, Scherzo in E Flat Minor, 16 Waltzes

BrahmsCD26Eighteen piano compositions.

Two different pianists.

One CD.

You’d think that would the formula for excitement.

And you’d just about be right.


Four-hand piano is done (at least for the time being). These piano compositions are for two-hand piano.

Performers are:

Kamerhan Turan (tracks 1-5)
Karin Lechner (tracks 6-21)

Compositions are:

Piano Sonata No. 1 in C Op. 1 (Turan)

According to its entry on Wikipedia:

The Piano Sonata No. 1 in C major, Op. 1, of Johannes Brahms was written in Hamburg in 1853, and published later that year. Despite being his first published work, he had actually composed his second piano sonata first, but chose this work to be his first published opus because he felt that it was of higher quality. The piece was sent along with his second sonata to Breitkopf & Härtel with a letter of recommendation from Robert Schumann. Schumann had already praised Brahms enthusiastically, and the sonata shows signs of an effort to impress in its technical demands and dramatic character. It was dedicated to Joseph Joachim.

If that is correct, then Brahms was 20 years old when he composed this music.

And beautiful music it is, too. Very listenable. Exciting. Seems the younger Brahms was Continue reading