Brahms: Choral Works / Davis, Stutzmann, Bavarian Radio
Sir Colin Davis's way with him strengthens such reactions. In the Schicksalslied his is the most serene account of Elysium and of the compatibility of Elysian security and earthly turbulence. Conductors as different from each other as Blomstedt (Decca) and Sinopoli (DG) are alike in their apparent conviction that what has to be done with this piece is to split it asunder, expose the chasm between its two worlds. Blomstedt's approach is probably philosophical, Sinopoli's dramatic, but they both go for the black and the white of it: Blomstedt takes 'Elysium' slowly and 'Earth' brutally fast and loud. Sinopoli moves in more doubtful fashion in the empyrean but then with demonic drive in the depiction of harried humanity. Davis forces nothing: he encourages neither lethargy nor wildness. Musically, his performance makes perfectly good sense of the return to calm, and all the argument about whether it constitutes an intentionally acquiescent 'happy ending' seems rather wide of the mark: musically the piece is a unity, and Davis's reading, like Brahms's composition, is thoroughly 'concerted'.
The soloist for the Alto Rhapsody is Nathalie Stutzmann, not entirely steady in her opening phrases but then deep-toned, and unusual in lightening the upper note in "der Falk der Liebe". [These performances] are gentle, both as recordings and interpretations. A bonus is the inclusion of the attractive and rarely heard Marienlieder of 1859: seven carol-like a cappella pieces, showing, among other things, the fine blend and sensitive shading of the Bavarian choir.
-- Gramophone [5/1993]
Catalog Number: RCA61201
Composer: Johannes Brahms
Conductor: Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble: Bavarian Radio Chorus, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Nathalie Stutzmann