Brahms: Lieder

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Lieder
PERFORMER: Ingeborg Danz (contralto)Almut Eckels (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 98.150
Ingeborg Danz describes herself as an alto, but while she has the lower notes of the range at her disposal her timbre is overall more mezzo-ish than the label would suggest. It’s a well-equalised voice, nevertheless, her intonation is spot-on, and she and her pianist Almut Eckels form an effective duo, notable for their intimate rapport and the ability to convey the essential introspection of this repertoire in performances that are fluent and highly musical. They also show an awareness of structural subtleties in what often seem on the surface the simplest of songs.

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Her Brahms selection is less hackneyed than many, with only a sprinkling of better-known items (among which In Waldeseinsamkeit receives an outstanding interpretation) and a focus on his folksong arrangements. Brahms ‘civilises’ the originals, as was obligatory before Bartók, but these pieces reveal just how often his own melodic lines contain folk-like inflections. Given the recherché nature of the material, however, it is especially regrettable that no texts or translations are included. George Hall