Johannes Brahms Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
- Released: May 10, 1991
- Originally Released: 1991
- Label: Philips
- 1.Ein Deutsches Requiem: Selig Sind, Die Da Leid Tragen
- 2.Ein Deutsches Requiem: Denn Alles Fleisch Es Ist Wie Gras
- 3.Ein Deutsches Requiem: Herr, Lehre Doch Mich
- 4.Ein Deutsches Requiem: Wie Lieblich Sind Deine Wohnungen
- 5.Ein Deutsches Requiem: Ihr Habt Nun Traurigkeit
- 6.Ein Deutsches Requiem: Denn Wir Haben Hie Keine Bleibende Statt
- 7.Ein Deutsches Requiem: Selig Sind Die Toten, Die In Dem Herrn Sterben
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Musical settings of the Requiem understandably encompass a vast expressive gamut, from Mozart's fear and trembling to the seraphic gentleness of Fauré. But the focus in Brahms's German Requiem--his first large-scale work--is not so much on the departed as on those left behind and the work of memory. In lieu of the traditional Latin liturgy, Brahms uses texts culled from the Lutheran Bible that range from despair at our mortal condition to the solace offered by faith. John Elliott Gardiner and his forces here attempt to replicate the orchestral sound and style of Brahms's own time, using period bowing practices for the strings and mellow Viennese horns, to cite a few examples. The result is a magnificent and deeply moving performance that features excellent integration of the orchestra and chorus. Gardiner molds a huge crescendo of imposing terror in the funereal march of the second movement but always keeps the textures clear and balanced. He manages to convey both the symphonic scope of this work and its polyphonic imagination--Brahms looked back to Baroque as well as Renaissance sources and in the process created a rich and potent new style. Charlotte Margiono's rosy soprano is angelic but at the same time tinged with a sense of longing for what has been lost--which makes the musical consolation offered by the end of the seventh movement all the more profound. Baritone Rodney Gilfry brings warmth and passionate phrasing to his solos. And presiding over everything is Gardiner's masterful sense of the work's larger structure: the path traced by Brahms is revealed with great dignity but is free of sentimentality. This recording belongs in any basic collection. --Thomas May
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