Knappertsbusch and the VPO on Decca

0 of 5 stars

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

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: March 2002
CD No: DECCA 470 254-2

Historical Brahms from a conductor a law unto himself – rough-hewn, stately, impromptu, the music built from the inside without affectation. Decca&#146s early stereo sound (1957) has presence and clarity, weight and fibre. The Academic Festival Overture is ceremonial and richly eloquent – more an old-boys&#146 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&#146s Idyll (1955, mono), intimate and contemplative, has time on its side to share confidences.

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