Johannes Brahms – Ein deutsches Requiem


Performer: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus

Conductor: Otto Klemperer

This account of the German Requiem really is one of the great recordings of the century. Even today, Otto Klemperer’s monumental interpretation with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus, recorded in 1961, remains unmatched among readings that emphasize the spirituality of the score. Sober and sustained, but not unduly slow, it places Brahms on the continuum of German sacred music going back through Beethoven to Handel, Bach, and Schütz. Drawing committed playing and singing from his forces, Klemperer opens the door to the beauties of the music without fuss or fanfare. Both soloists are exemplary: Schwarzkopf’s expressive portamento now sounds a bit dated in style, but her singing is characterful, while Fischer-Dieskau is a paragon of restrained expressiveness. The singing of the Philharmonia Chorus is especially beautiful. EMI has done a superior job of remastering the original recording. Balances and tone quality are quite fine, and the spacious Kingsway Hall ambience conveys with lifelike immediacy. Compared with previous CD incarnations, there is new depth to the image and better resolution of detail–the weight of the organ can really be felt, as can the timpani strokes in “Denn alles fleisch es ist wie gras,” and one finds greater presence and definition in the chorus and considerably more richness of tone in the orchestra. There is still some distortion in the climactic moments; for example, what sounds like tape saturation frizzes a couple of the big Beethovenian choral proclamations at the end of “Denn alles fleisch es ist wie gras.” Such things are but a small blemish on what is an absolutely ravishing restoration of one of the most valuable recordings of the stereo era. –Ted Libbey


1. Ziemlich langsam – Selig sind, die da Leid tragen
2. Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras
3. Herr, lehre doch mich
4. Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen
5. Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit
6. Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt
7.Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben


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