Before he was dubbed "the high priest of Bach" in recognition and appreciation of his recordings of the late Baroque composer's complete sacred choral music, German conductor Helmuth Rilling played the choral music field. Whilst his non-Bach performances were not always entirely successful, this 1977 recording with the Gächinger Kantorei and duo pianists Martin Galling and Michael Leuschner of Brahms' Liebeslieder-Walzer and Neue Liebeslieder-Walzer is not only entirely successful, it is as totally charming and endlessly entertaining as the subject it treats. While seemingly far away from the late Romantic composer's usual purview of austerity and morbidity, the Liebeslieder and Neue Liebeslieder-Walzer are in fact a cunning blend of instantly memorable melodies and irresistibly danceable rhythms with often profoundly melancholy lyrics. Belying his sober reputation, Rilling leads the crackerjack Gächinger Kantorei in performances of lightness and grace, with beautifully phrased tunes, wonderfully poised balances, and marvelously swaying tempos. The inclusion of Brahms' later a cappella Sechs Chöre, Op. 93a, and Fünf Chöre, Op. 104, add not only more playing time to the disc but, through their subtle shades of light and shadow, also a deeper insight into Brahms' emotional and musical nature. Captured in deep and detailed stereo sound, this disc will delight those who love the Liebeslieder-Walzer and confound those who think of Rilling as only the high priest of Bach.
Disc, case and insert in excellent condition, no visible flaws.