The Prince Consort - Other Love Songs - Words and Music

Both sets of Brahms' Liebeslieder, Op52 and Op65, are for four voices plus piano duet. He composed Op52 in 1869, aged 36, after settling permanently in Vienna and Op65 in 1874 on holiday beside Lake Zurich. The texts are translations of folk poetry from Russia and Poland by GF Daumer. Stephen Hough's eight Other Love Songs were commissioned to complement the Brahms waltzes and are settings of poets as different as AE Housman and Mother Julian of Norwich. • No Victorian stuffiness deadens these light, frothy performances; they make the sung waltz sound the latest craze. Thank the pianists who thunder at speed and simper without losing tension. The singers' young voices are lithe and tuned to the ensemble. They blend well despite their opera soloists' egos. The separate lines are vivid as rock strata and diction clear as day. Naughty I know to pick one, but the tenor Staples is destined for a top career. The problem will be staying together. They birth Hough's babies with character, especially the Langston Hughes lyric Madam which mezzo Jennifer Johnston does Scouse. It's not what Hughes intended, but it works.

14 June 2011