Brahms: Complete Duets & Quartets

Brahms: Complete Duets & Quartets

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This release concludes the CPO exploration of the song oeuvre of Johannes Brahms. Time of course has taken nothing away from the enduringly high value of the song interpretations by top artists like Juliane Banse, Ingeborg Danz, Andreas Schmidt, Christoph Prégardien, and others. Already the sheer quantity of twenty duets and twenty-seven quartets as well as the eighteen Liebeslieder-Walzer and fifteen Neue Liebeslieder-Walzer still mostly designed as vocal quartets clearly demonstrate that settings for more than one solo voice have an important place in Brahms’s lied oeuvre. Although the quartets in principle were written for ensembles of soloists, from the very beginning choral performance for presentation in the concert hall formed an alternative that at least was tolerated by the composer. While Brahms himself could not decide about the ideal ensemble dimensions, solo or choral, for the two series of Liebeslieder-Walzer, for the Quartets op. 64 he even expressly reckoned with the possibility, as he stated to his publisher, that the settings “occasionally would be sung by a little choir.” Things were different with the duets: they belonged to the core inventory of middle-class home performance in the nineteenth century and were even more strongly anchored there than the solo lied beginning in the 1850s, when the increasing number of lieder recitals meant that this song form more frequently found its way to the concert hall.
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