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Hyperion Records

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Martyre chrétienne by Hippolyte Delaroche (1797-1856)
Private Collection / Photo © Bonhams, London / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67775
Recording details: October 2007
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by Andrew Mellor
Release date: May 2009
Total duration: 20 minutes 52 seconds

'Sung with sympathy and ardour by this excellent chamber choir, with apt accompaniments by Christopher Glynn' (Gramophone)

'This is definitely a crack chamber-sized choir: the sound is perennially fresh, even youthful … intonation, ensemble, articulation are all flawless … I have much enjoyed Consortium's Brahms, especially for the sheer quality of the singing. They are particularly good at sustaining tone in pianissimo, and they are always rhythmically alive, which is vital in this repertoire' (International Record Review)

'A professional ensemble that seems to be eking out a niche for itself … Consortium makes some very beautiful sounds' (Fanfare, USA)

'Elegant, refined music-making' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'There is little doubt that this is high-class choral singing: refined, sweet-toned, impeccably tuned, with subtly nuanced dynamics … the performances are consistently of the highest quality and when Brahms is at his reflective and melancholy best, so are Consortium' (Musical Criticism.com)

Zigeunerlieder, Op 103
composer
1887
author of text
translated from Hungarian folksongs

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
One of Brahms’s last sets of quartets with piano is the eleven Zigeunerlieder Op 103, composed in 1887. These ‘gypsy songs’ skilfully and shrewdly combine the appeal of his two most popular and successfully marketed works, the Hungarian Dances and the Liebeslieder-Walzer. Like the latter, though on a slightly more elaborate scale, they form a sequence of dance-songs for vocal quartet; but now in the rhythms and exotic harmonic shading of the former. Brahms, who at this stage in his life had no pressing financial needs, seems to have written them for sheer enjoyment, and they are further testimony to the extraordinary fascination and fertilizing effect of gypsy music on his style. The texts are from a collection of twenty-five Hungarian folksongs, translated by his friend Hugo Conrat for an edition originally published in Budapest with piano accompaniments by Zoltán Nagy. Choosing freely from Conrat’s words, but only intermittently evoking the original tunes, Brahms produced a concentrated song-sequence that rings as resourceful a set of changes on the 2/4 csárdás rhythm as the Liebeslieder had upon waltz-time. The ‘Hungarian’ idiom is otherwise rather diffuse, and some of the songs—notably the beautiful Nos 7 and 8—resemble strophic Lieder with Slavic colouring. The theme of the opening song, He, Zigeuner, greife, returns in varied form as the theme of the last, Rote Abendwolken ziehn, and in No 10 the piano part produces an uncanny imitation of the cimbalom.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2009

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