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Brahms Lieder - Complete Edition volume 8

7 Lieder op.95.
4 Lieder op.96.
6 Lieder op.97.
5 Lieder op.105.

Juliane Banse, Andreas Schmidt, Helmut Deutsch

CPO 9994482 [mid price; 45 mins]

This series, being released slowly at mid-price, is approaching completion. I was interested to revisit it, having reviewed Volume 1
(see below).

The songs of Vol 8 were recorded 1997/98, most of them relatively unfamiliar, apart from a few favourites such as Wir andelten (op 96/2) Immer leiser (op 105/2) and Auf der Kirchofe (op 105.4).

I am not a collector of intégrales but the range of Johannes Brahms’ lieder justifies a full survey and this first one is certailnly useful. My good impression of the inaugural volume is sustained; the singing is generally fine and the partnerships with Helmut Deutsch close and well balanced.

Peter Jost’s notes are packed with detailed information; shorter paragraphs and italics for song titles would have helped, though.

I hope the completed collection will be re-issued in due course as a more reasonably priced boxed set (this release gives very short measure at 45 mins, and it looks as if some compression would be in order?).

For a more critical response, well argued, see musicweb-international

BRAHMS Lieder Op. 3, 6, 7 & 14 (Complete Edition, Vol. 1)
Juliane Banse (soprano) Andreas Schmidt (baritone) Helmut Deutsch (piano)
CPO 999 441-2 [54'41"]

This is an auspicious Volume One. Brahms might have composed nearly as many songs as Schubert, but he was notoriously self-critical and pruned them rigorously. There are some 200 solo songs extant, composed almost continuously from 1851-88, plus many duets and vocal quartets. These early examples from 1853-58 are rarely heard, undeservedly so. For his texts, Brahms sought poems which offered musical opportunities for enhancement, often conventional ones rather than masterpieces. Schumann encouraged the young Brahms to publish and he showed early an ability to transcend texts with his music.

Op 3 no 1 demonstrates unusual thematic concentration for songs of the time, and no 2 quite complex contrapuntal intertwining of musical lines. Op 6 no 1 is a straightforward setting of In dem Schatten meiner Locken, made so memorable in Wolf's later version. In these early sets there are a number of folk songs including a Scottish murder tale with strongly dotted accompaniment (Op 14 no 3).
Heard without scores, these were entirely convincing performances. Both singers make the most of their opportunities.

Juliane Banse is a protegé of Brigitte Fassbaender, and shared her last London appearance before she suddenly retired. I heard her at the Wigmore Hall and am impressed with the development shown in these performances. A lovely voice in perfect control.

Andreas Schmidt has a good range of expression in the masculine songs. Sympathetic accompaniment by the very experienced Helmut Deutsch, who has accompanied many of the great names of recent times - my only slight regret is that the piano tone is not a little brighter. Full documentation in a 44-page booklet, with an illuminating essay by Peter Jost, full texts and English translations, printed clearly on thin, strong paper (which should be used for CD inserts more often). I look forward to further releases in this series.

from MusicWebInternational reviewer Peter Grahame Woolf

© Peter Grahame Woolf