Academic Festival Overture, Op.80
Tragic Overture, Op.81
Rhapsody for contralto, male chorus and orchestra, Op.53
Variations on a theme by Haydn (St Anthony Chorale), Op.56a
Siegfried Idyll
Lucretia West (contralto)
Vienna Academy Male Voice Choir
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch
CD No: DECCA 470 254-2
Reviewed: March 2002
Historical Brahms from a conductor a law unto himself – rough-hewn, stately, impromptu, the music built from the inside without affectation. Decca’s early stereo sound (1957) has presence and clarity, weight and fibre. The Academic Festival Overture is ceremonial and richly eloquent – more an old-boys’ reunion than high-spirited students; its Tragic counterpart is driven and passionate. Lucretia West digs deep into the lonely emotions of the Rhapsody; the male chorus brings consolation. The Variations, initially arthritic, are expressively moulded and texturally interwoven in relaxed style. Wagner’s Idyll (1955, mono), intimate and contemplative, has time on its side to share confidences.


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