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Ein Deutsches Requiem

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Amazon.com: 10 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Requiem revisited April 29 2012
By Jim D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It's hard to believe that Gardiner's previous recording of this work was released twenty years ago! This new version caps a concert cycle that has already given us all the symphonies (though Brahms actually wrote those afterwards). Gardiner's top-notch chorus is responsive to every variation in dynamics and tempo, which can change from bar to bar in this highly romantic performance. The music never just sits around being pretty, although it certainly is; it is always going somewhere--perhaps most strikingly (and perhaps a shade too fast) in the opening pages of the last movement, often an anticlimax after the exuberant fugue that precedes it. Preceding the main work on the disc are two motets by Heinrich Schutz, whose counterpoint influenced Brahms, and who set some of the same texts used in the Requiem. The live recording is very clear (if a tad close), the audience is remarkably quiet, and the young-sounding soloists handle their assignments well.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Rivals Klemp for Fire. Great Sound July 12 2012
By Henry James - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
For 50 years I have been looking for a recording to rival the classic Klemperer/Philharmonia. I admired the earlier Gardiner, but it wasn't "to die for," if you will pardon a terrible joke.

This one is close, despite a couple of reservations. The chorus IS very strong and very crisp, and wonderfully recorded (as is the whole CD). There is lots of energy where needed (esp mvt 6).

I wasn't thrilled by the soloists - OK but not up to the Klemperer luminaries. And I did think he took the final movement a bit too fast, though we can put up with an alternative view once in a while, can't we?

All in all, a pleasant surprise (not that high quality from Gardiner is surprising, I just expected less wattage given his last outing on this piece). But I am not throwing away my Klemperer.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
One of the most moving versions on disc - Gardiner at his best Jan. 22 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having objected to Gardiner's Brahms symphonies, which make a sham of Romantic style, I must disagree with the three-star reviewer who says that Gardiner makes the German Requiem sound as if it were a Baroque work. In this case, practice is better than theory. The notion that the masterpieces of late Romanticism should sound like Monteverdi is touted by the HIP camp in a superior manner, when in fact it is a ridiculous theory. The two chorus-and-organ works by Schuetz that begin the program (they share texts with two movements of the Brahms) are stunningly sung by the Monteverdi Choir, which has learned, against all odds, to hold impeccable pitch without using any vibrato. The music also finds Gardiner at his most convincing. He is an outstanding choral conductor by any measure.

The major work is a remake of Gardiner's first German Requiem on Philips, which was widely praised, and I enjoyed it as an antidote to high-Victorian piousness. It was thanks to that piousness that Brahms enjoyed his first international success with the Requiem. Gardiner's recording also benefited from two very good soloists in Rodney Gilfry and Charlotte Margiono, who were drawn from his stable of Mozart opera cast members. What has changed the second time around? As in the symphony cycle, Gardiner is determined to give us zingy strings in scarce quantity, which never stops being an irritation and a total anachronism (Pablo Casals played for Brahms and sued full modern vibrato). The orchestral body is so reduced as to make much of the Requiem sound a cappella.

As in his first version, Gardiner's virtues as a choral conductor give this reading backbone - I've never heard a choir sound so clear and precise. It also seems that he's willing to let them use vibrato, so this intimate, flexible reading of the Requiem doesn't imitate the Schuetz. Some passages are undersung, but Gardiner doesn't let the line sag, and in the fugues he shows real animation, which is rare. The recorded sound is excellent, clearly superior to the earlier one.

Which leaves the two soloists. The greater burden lies on the baritone Matthew Brook, who has a warm, appealing tone, but with a tendency to veer off pitch in passing notes and at the top of his range. His delivery is much more intimate than his rivals' - you really feel that this is a soul entreating God in privacy - so there's a nice counterpoint with the agitated chorus and orchestra. If you want an alternative to the usual declamatory style of most baritone soloists on disc, Brook can be quite moving. The soprano has only one solo, a very difficult one that lies so high, most soloists turn it into a vocalise without an intelligible word. Katherine Fuge seems quite small-voiced, but it doesn't matter given the small string body that she must sing over. she actually pronounces some of the text fairly clearly. But there's no great quality to her tone, style, or delivery.

I haven't quite communicated how personal and interesting Gardiner's conducting is. I'd easily rank the remake above his original. This is a beautiful reading even if you are allergic to "authenticity" - in this case, there's enough musicality to overcome all objections.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Choral Sound June 7 2012
By Rev. Gary Jon Cooper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If you don't have to have top-notch soloists, but are looking for great choral sound, this is a great version of the Requiem. Too often a huge romantic orchestra is out in front of the sound; not here. The choral diction is great too. I was attracted to the way Gardiner understands the need for a solid opening of the final chorus after the huge fugue "Herr, du bist würdig!" When he then brings it down for a more contemplative ending it just seems more satisfying. Yes, the soloists are not everything you could wish for. These younger voices don't quite convey the gravitas of the texts; but so much else is so right with this performance, I'm prepared to overlook it. The shipping was faster than I expected, and I think the price was very good for something I'm going to enjoy until I finally fill up "the measure of my days."
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of my all-time favorites! Jan. 2 2013
By eTCla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This new recording of the Brahms Requiem by the Monteverdi Choir is simply divine! No surprise here. Sir John Eliot Gardiner is at his best in this series!

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