Brahms's first connection with choral music came in 1857, and his first appointment in Vienna, in 1863, was to conduct the Singakademie. He premièred A German Requiem in the city and wrote widely for choral forces, taking a variety of poetic source material. Begräbnisgesang (Funeral Hymn) evinces a great feeling of solemnity, whilst Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny) is an urgent, volatile work. Nänie was written as a lament for the death of the painter Anselm Feuerbach, and the Alto Rhapsody has remained one of the greatest works for contralto in the repertoire.
An anthology of all Brahms's shorter choral-orchestral works is a welcome thing, especially in performances as sterling as these. Performance **** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine,Feb'12
Antonio Wit is proving to be one of Naxos's greatest assets, a conductor of strong personality who puts musical values first, yet can readily create both drama and spontinaeity in the recording studio. Moreover, Ewa Wolak is a rich-toned contralto, without a hint of a wobble, who can evoke exactly the kind of lyrical drama which the lovely Alto Rhapsody commands...This super-budget collection is marvellously sung and played. --Gramophone,Mar'12