So, I went searching for something more helpful, if less historic, and ended up downloading recordings by the wonderful Angelika Kirchschlager, with Helmut Deutsch on piano and the highly regarded Yuri Bashmet on viola. It's pretty much just what I wanted, but you know there's a viola joke in here somewhere, right? As it happens, just at a moment when I'm playing part of the second song for my wife to show her how beautiful it is, Bashmet suddenly makes a remarkably inelegant landing on what eventually becomes a F-sharp. On repeated listening, I have to admit it's not as bad as it first seemed, but the point is that we both reacted immediately - and my wife had never even heard the song before. Just one of those inevitable viola moments that apparently even state-of-the-art engineers couldn't hide.
Downloading Kirchschlager's recordings of Brahms' Op.91 songs: $1.98 on Amazon.com
Downloading the Sheet Music: $0.00 on IMSLP.org
Hearing a world-class violist play like, well, a violist: priceless!
[NOTE: The "priceless" moment occurs about 10 seconds in on that mp3, p.13 of the score. Meanwhile, as you can see, I've been inspired by Rivinus - and Bashmet - to do a little viola distorting of my own. UPDATE: If you click on the viola above, you can watch the distorting in action.]
[Oh, and don't forget this little bit of viola humor that features Primrose himself.]