Day 360: Songs and Duets II

BrahmsCD54Instant ugh.

A change in performers today results in a CD that’s far less enjoyable.

The Performers:

Stephanie Iranyi mezzo-soprano

Michael Volle baritone

Helmut Deutsch piano

Any time I encounter a mezzo-soprano and a baritone together I know I’m in for a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard experience.

Sure enough.

The fun that I discovered on yesterday’s CD has been replaced with songs that sound, on balance, heavy, serious, weighty, important, and lugubrious. (With few exceptions, of course, such as Track 4: “Der Jager und sein Liebchen,” which tries hard to be upbeat but that mezzo-soprano vocal range just gives me a headache.)

I just can’t get into this music.

Day 353: Songs V

BrahmsCD47In 1978, British progressive-rock musician Jeff Wayne released an album called Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds in which the story – and the songs – are interspersed by narration.

Today’s Brahms CD reminded me of that album because it, too, is a song cycle interspersed by narration.

Granted, the narration on Brahms CD 47 is in German so I can’t understand a word of it. But it’s narration nonetheless.

The Composition:

Romanzen Op. 33 (30 tracks)

The Performers:

Hartmut Volle narrator

Michael Volle baritone

Adrian Baianu piano

According to the Gramophone web site:

Brahm’s Magelone Lieder have, with a few exceptions, never been among his most popular, perhaps because they relate too closely to the somewhat scented romanticism of Tieck’s novella. Performances of the cycle are rare, performances with narrator are still rarer…

War-Of-The-WorldsI Googled Brahms’ Romanzen (“romantic”) composition and I discovered very little about it, other than what I quoted above.

The IMSLP web site indicates that this was written in 1861-1869. Kind of vague. If it’s true, Brahms was 28-36.

Which, incidentally, was the same age as Jeff Wayne was when he created his War of the Worlds album.

Day 351: Songs III

BrahmsCD45What shall we call this?

Cousin of Songs?

Niece of Songs?

Second Son By a Second Marriage of Songs?


This is Songs III, but with another change – a male vocalist instead of the female vocalist in the last CD.

The baritone on today’s CD sounds much like the tenor on Songs I. His range may go a little lower. But his upper register is every bit as high as the tenor’s.

The Compositions:

Too many to name. There are 19 tracks on today’s CD.

The Performers:

Michael Volle baritone

Karl-Peter Kammerlander piano

The singer is accomplished. But the compositions are lackluster.

The pianist is very good. I enjoy the tone of the piano and how it was recorded.

But this is another CD that I really didn’t need to hear.