WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat; Fünf Gesänge,Op. 105
PERFORMER: Stephen Kovacevich (piano), Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano); London Philharmonic/Wolfgang Sawallisch
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55218 2 DDD
The five Op. 105 songs make a thoughtful and unusual coupling for Brahms’s B flat Concerto. The link between them, of course, is that ‘Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer’, that superb lullaby of approaching death, appears to quote (or is foreshadowed by?) the rapt cello theme of the concerto’s slow movement. And they receive a really superb performance from Ann Murray, with Kovacevich a responsive and characterful accompanist. She even boldly takes on ‘Verrat’, customarily considered a man’s song, and provides a marvellously fiery interpretation of this, Brahms’s late and last visitation of his ballad style.