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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67559
Recording details: July 2005
Westminster Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: June 2006
Total duration: 4 minutes 27 seconds

'Baker and his choir do a fine job with these pieces. The conclusion to Schaffe in mir is wonderfully exciting … while the close to Geistliches Leid, a work too easily dismissed as 'just' a church anthem, is gorgoeously ardent. In Warum? Baker does not overlook the dramatic side of the text and turns in a performance that is both technically excellent and exciting. And Rheinberger's Mass, a beautiful work with rich sonorities, has a fine musical sensitivity and flow' (American Record Guide)

'It is hard to imagine finer singing of these sacred scores from Brahms and Rheinberger than that from the Westminster Cathedral Choir. The Cathedral choristers display a remarkable technical prowess and refinement. From the riveting Kyrie of the Missa Canonica to the symphonic conclusion of the Agnus Dei of the Mass for double choir, Martin Baker directs winning performances, that are marvellously fresh and well-paced. In the exceptional ecclesiastical acoustic of Westminster Cathedral the male choir’s timbre is rich and immediate, with a robust edge that seems ideal for these compelling scores. The highlight for me is the direct and vital quality to the Westminster choir’s singing in Rheinberger’s magnificent Mass. The contribution from organist Matthew Martin is first rate, providing immediacy, without ever being obtrusive. These are superbly performed and recorded sacred works that lovers of choral music will surely relish' (MusicWeb International)

Two Motets, Op 29
5vv unaccompanied; No 1: 1860; No 2: 1856; first performed in Vienna on 17 April 1864 and published the same year

Other recordings available for download
Corydon Singers, Matthew Best (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Two Motets Op 29 are the earliest surviving works by Brahms in this particular genre. Composed in 1860, they were not published until 1864, shortly after their premiere in Vienna on 17 April, as part of a concert which also included a performance of the two-piano version of the F minor Piano Quintet, Op 34, given by Brahms and Carl Tausig.

‘Es ist das Heil uns kommen her’ is richly scored in five parts (divided basses), consisting of a chorale harmonization (cf Op 74 No 2), followed by an extended Allegro fugal setting based on the main chorale melody. Brahms alleviates the relatively conventional approach to harmony by the subtle use of a number of archetypal chromatic inflections, most potently in the final bars, intensified by their suspension over a tonic E pedal point in the bass.

‘Schaffe in mir, Gott’, also with divided basses, opens with a canon (Andante moderato) in augmentation; that is to say, whilst the sopranos sing their melody twice through, the basses simultaneously sing the identical melody but at half speed, the two parts finally meeting up at the end of the section. However, such is the resulting simplicity of musical utterance, that the casual listener would hardly be aware of this intellectual conceit. ‘Verwirf mich nicht’ (Andante espressivo) is texturally more complex, exhibiting a transcendental contrapuntal mastery. Particularly notable is the exhilarating effect caused by the canonic interplay between the sopranos and tenors just before the end of this section, sending both parts soaring up to a top A flat within a beat of each other. The following ‘Tröste mich’ (Andante) is another canon, this time overlapping horizontally at the distance of one bar, and vertically by the interval of a seventh, appearing initially between tenors and second basses. This leads directly into the final section (‘und der freudige’—Allegro) which, with its thrilling sequences of running thirds, ends the motet in a mood of resounding affirmation.

from notes by Julian Haylock © 1991

Other albums featuring this work
'Brahms: motets' (CDH55346)
Brahms: motets
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55346  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  

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