Author Topic: Ein Deutsches Requiem  (Read 268 times)

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Offline Holden

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Ein Deutsches Requiem
« on: February 18, 2021, 06:08:39 PM »
I've recently returned to this work and really only have one recording of it - the highly recommended Klemperer. The problem is that I don't like all of it. The first two movements are amazing but from that point on it seems to become perfunctory and Fischer-Dieskau's voice grates at times. He sounds like he's trying to be note perfect instead of just losing himself in the music.

I can sort of hear in my head what the other four movements could sound like and wonder if there are other recordings worth exploring. Ideally I'd like a stereo performance but am happy with mono. I couldn't find a thread about this work in general so I've started this one.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2021, 02:25:33 PM by Holden »
Cheers

Holden

Offline david johnson

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2021, 11:32:05 PM »
Klemperer/EMI is the one I have and enjoy.  Years ago I had Maazel/New Philharmonia.  The Maazel was well recorded, but that's all I recall about it.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2021, 12:12:32 AM »
There's only one movement that I like - used for the TV series 'The Nazis - A Warning from History'. That movement I like very much; the rest I find tedious:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ti1iPnaTdY
« Last Edit: February 19, 2021, 12:19:46 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Jo498

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2021, 12:38:28 AM »
I like Klemperer overall very much. The main problem here is Schwarzkopf who almost ruins her movement (but this one rarely gets done well). Of the half dozen I have heard, the best soprano solo is Grümmer with Kempe (DG). This is still mono but very good sound for the age and certainly worth a try. It has Fi-Di a few years before Klemperer's recording but you might not like him there either (I think he is very good in both recordings).
Another one that should have the additional advantage of being cheap, is Kegel/Leipzig (Capriccio, Delta, maybe another cheapo with a very good baritone (Lorenz), mediocre soprano, excellent choir and good sound. My two other ones are "historically informed", Herreweghe and Norrington but I have not got around comparing them; I used to like the Herreweghe but seem to recall that I was a bit disappointed later on and so I got the Norrington about a year ago but except that the latter is even faster and leaner I don't remember too much about it.
If Mendelssohn "updated" Bach and Handel in his oratorios, Brahms goes in some respects even further back to Schütz (with the "Musicalische Exequien", a great piece, being the closest paradigm, a German funeral mass with a somewhat personal selection from Scripture). It is a long and sometimes a bit uniform piece but also quite unique. It also seems rather specifically (north) German protestant/Lutheran and there seems a wider cultural gap with some audiences than for Brahms' other music. (I tend to feel a similar gap with the internationally more popular Verdi Requiem that has great music but also parts I find bordering on the silly and trashy (Sanctus with is "banda"-opera-style. Both Brahms and even more Verdi Requiems can be very impressive live, though.)
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline ultralinear

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2021, 02:12:53 AM »
I have a few recordings, but the one I inevitably return to is this:



Which I like a lot. :)  For me it works better as a chamber piece, with a delicacy than can be quite affecting.  I tend to find the grandeur of the full-scale productions rather off-putting.

Online Biffo

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2021, 04:12:34 AM »
My favourite is Sawallisch with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus with Thomas Allen and Margaret Price - excellent singing all round. I have the Klemperer and Kempe recordings mentioned above and enjoy them as well. I love this work and also have recordings from Kubelik, Previn, Herreweghe and Rattle and Gardiner (his first recording) . I also have the chamber version from Christophers and The Sixteen.

Offline André

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2021, 11:09:38 AM »
For the Requiem to have its full effect a pure, silvery soprano is needed in Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit. And of course a great chorus and a sympathetic conductor. The baritone has more to do than the soprano (like in Fauré’s Requiem) but just like that work lives or dies by its Pie Jesu movement, the emotional and devotional crux of the Brahms Requiem lies in that soprano solo. It’s the one piece of text that deals about death in an intimate, personal way. The other texts are more generic in that they treat death as a passage, a state, the gateway to the Great Beyond - conventional stuff suitable for a congregation of believers rather than the individual soul seeking spiritual comfort.

Of course it’s not enough to have a Gundula Janowitz or Elisabeth Schwarzkopf to sing in seraphic tones. In these particular recordings both Karajan and Klemperer don’t avoid some pitfalls: gooey religiosity (HvK) or severity bordering on austerity (OK). Karajan is better in his two subsequent recordings. Janowitz herself would do better under Haitink. There’s also the magnificent Margaret Price with Andre Previn or Elizabeth Watts under Nézet-Séguin. All three share the characteristic of adopting very slow tempi that make the experience rather depressing if one is not predisposed to equate slowness with profundity. The Kegel mentioned by Jo498 is a very good version - I even like the soprano  :). Levine in Chicago is also very good - one of the best among easily available versions, in the box with the symphonies (superb).

Surprisingly the Requiem was never recorded (AFAIK) by the likes of Jochum, Böhm or Bernstein, who played the symphonies many times over throughout their careers. Walter is excellent but the sound is not modern.

Best for me though are two little-known, recentish versions offering fast speeds and luminous textures (orchestral and choral): that of Jan Willem de Vriend in The Hague :



and, best of all, this one at budget price, with a radiant Juliane Banse :


Offline vers la flamme

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2021, 11:10:23 AM »
I have a few recordings, but the one I inevitably return to is this:



Which I like a lot. :)  For me it works better as a chamber piece, with a delicacy than can be quite affecting.  I tend to find the grandeur of the full-scale productions rather off-putting.

This sounds phenomenal! Might have to buy it.

Online OrchestralNut

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2021, 11:24:54 AM »
There's only one movement that I like - used for the TV series 'The Nazis - A Warning from History'. That movement I like very much; the rest I find tedious:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ti1iPnaTdY

That's the second movement (my favourite as well).

I love the first two movements. However, even being a Brahms fan for a long time, the other movements just put me to sleep.  :-[
Location:  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Offline Jo498

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Re: Eine Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2021, 10:17:53 AM »
I would not single out the soprano solo in such a way. For me the problem is rather that I don't like most performances of that movement I have heard because it seems such a struggle to sing the music without straining and in a comforting way (Schwarzkopf sings it more like a nasty governess, not like a loving mother).
There is a fairly obvious parallel/symmetry of the quiet outer movemments mirroring the text (Blessed are those who mourn / Blessed are the dead...) but otherwise there does not seem to be a clear dramatic arch. We get three movements going from mourning/reflection to redemption/triumph of which #2 is also my favorite, so this is a bit of a problem getting the best part so early in the piece ;). But #3 is also very good (this was the one that ended in desaster at the premiere because the brass and timpani pedal point in the fugue supposedly drowned the choir and everything else). Of #6 I find the final fuge a bit generic and there are also better judgment/last trumpet treatments, my favorite part here is the mysterious beginning. The other two movements are more like intermezzi, especially "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen" almost scherzando. And the soprano solo is the most personal, I can certainly agree with that.

Could a moderator correc the title, it's "Ein", not "Eine"?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2021, 10:26:59 AM by Jo498 »
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Holden

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Re: Ein Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2021, 02:25:07 PM »
I would not single out the soprano solo in such a way. For me the problem is rather that I don't like most performances of that movement I have heard because it seems such a struggle to sing the music without straining and in a comforting way (Schwarzkopf sings it more like a nasty governess, not like a loving mother).
There is a fairly obvious parallel/symmetry of the quiet outer movemments mirroring the text (Blessed are those who mourn / Blessed are the dead...) but otherwise there does not seem to be a clear dramatic arch. We get three movements going from mourning/reflection to redemption/triumph of which #2 is also my favorite, so this is a bit of a problem getting the best part so early in the piece ;). But #3 is also very good (this was the one that ended in desaster at the premiere because the brass and timpani pedal point in the fugue supposedly drowned the choir and everything else). Of #6 I find the final fuge a bit generic and there are also better judgment/last trumpet treatments, my favorite part here is the mysterious beginning. The other two movements are more like intermezzi, especially "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen" almost scherzando. And the soprano solo is the most personal, I can certainly agree with that.

Could a moderator correc the title, it's "Ein", not "Eine"?

Done - I'm used to using the feminine pronoun so thanks for pointing this out.
Cheers

Holden

Offline Jo498

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Re: Ein Deutsches Requiem
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2021, 12:29:56 AM »
Messe (Mass) would be feminine but for some reason all? the pieces referred to by incipit-words like Te Deum, Requiem, Laudate, etc. are neutral. It is also somewhat significant that Brahms uses an indefinite article. Strictly speaking the word is not a Requiem at all, it is not a translation of the catholic funeral mass but rather a personal selection of somewhat fitting pieces from Scripture. (And he was criticized by theologians at the time for not referring to things they found essential for such a funeral music.) So the indefinite article could almost be understood as "a kind of German funeral music".
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)