Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, Reger & Rheinberger

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Reger & Rheinberger,Schubert,Schumann
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Nightsongs
WORKS: Ständchen; Abendlied
PERFORMER: The King’s Singers, Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto), Neill Archer (tenor), Roger Vignoles (piano) Michael Thompson Horn Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68646 2
The faces and the vocal timbres may change, but the King’s Singers march on. That said, a few tracks here – piano-led Schubert and Brahms – although charming and poised, never quite take fire. A soirée intimacy (more English drawing room than Viennese salon) is achieved, but the net result is just a little tame. These pieces in German need a little more sticky sweetness and rubato. The restrained, self-effacing approach makes for just a hint of four-square dullness.

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With Brahms’s ‘Der Abend’, touchingly rounded off, things start to warm. The rich a cappella textures of Rheinberger’s ‘Abendlied’, cherished as if it were Praetorius, offer a further uplift. Schubert’s ‘Ständchen’, taken briskly beneath a curious high-placed contralto solo, has a rhapsodic feel. Reger’s prayerful ‘Nachtlied’ enchants. Schubert’s rocking ‘Mondenschein’ builds nicely; ‘Die Nacht’ is shyly tender; Brahms’s ‘Nachtwache I’ is rather heartening. Schubert with horn quartet comes off well; Schumann less so. Brahms’s ‘An die Heimat’ makes the right nerves tingle.

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So high marks for repertoire, although the King’s Singers could do with listening to a few more besotted Bavarians. The music is always tastefully, and often beautifully, sung, but for all that this remains a slightly bizarre, unwieldy and unevenly produced collection. Roderic Dunnett