"John Eliot Gardiner and the ORR continue their Brahms symphonies series with this live recording of No 2, with the heartfelt Alto Rhapsody (soloist Nathalie Stutzmann) and three Schubert choruses as a bonus. Energy and meticulous phrasing truly ignite this score. Strings use limited vibrato, with judicious portamento and expressively varied bowing."
The Observer - 13 February 2009
"The second part of John Eliot Gardiner’s Brahms Cycle pairs the Second Symphony with the "Alto Rhapsody", Schubert’s male voices setting of the "Gesang der Geister über den Wassern", and two of Brahms’s arrangements of Schubert lieder.
Orchestre Romantique et Révolutionnaire’s sound is vivid and clear. Nathalie Stutzmann’s "Alto Rhapsody" is tenderly shaped, depthless, elegant. But for the squeezed tenors and excitable basses, this is an arresting and impressive performance."
Pick of the album: Stutzmann’s poised, thoughtful ’Alto Rhapsody’
The Independent On Sunday - 13 February 2009
"John Eliot Gardiner’s Brahms cycle, performed across two seasons in several venues, was at pains to place the four symphonies, the German Requiem and the Alto Rhapsody in the context of music that Brahms is known to have admired, and which influenced his own works. For the disc of the Rhapsody and the Second Symphony, recorded in the Salle Pleyel, Paris, in November 2007, that context is provided by three of Schubert’s male-voice choruses. Two of them are sung by the Monteverdi Choir in Brahms’s own arrangements, while the most substantial, the Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, seems a direct antecedent of the writing for male voices in the Alto Rhapsody, which Natalie Stutzmann sings with gravity. The account of the symphony is impressive too - the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique sounds on more secure form than it was for the London leg of this tour - and Gardiner’s swift reading is always dramatically sure footed."
The Guardian - 13 February 2009
Recording of the Month
“…We’re now halfway through this Gardiner cycle and the very high expectations aroused by Volume One have been met comfortably in this second instalment. This is shaping up to be a tremendous Brahms cycle, with the vocal items a substantial and enlightening bonus. As with Volume One the attractions of this release are enhanced by SDG’s usual high presentation standards. Last year I made the CD of the First Symphony one of my Recordings of the Year. This latest instalment will be on the shortlist for 2009, I feel sure – unless SDG trump this particular ace by releasing Symphony 3 before the year end. One can live in hope.”
MusicWeb International - 9 March 2009
"Stutzmann is a wonder here. There is something of a dark self-knowledge in her powerful, deep, vibrato-free register as she contemplates wild nature through Goethe’s forlorn poem. The Monteverdi Choir sounds fresh and youthful in the Schubert. The ORR radiates warmth in Brahms’ Second. The Adagio is a little heavy, but the Allegretto has moving innocence and the finale a combination of relief and rejoicing under Gardner." ****
Classic FM Magazine - May 2009
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