One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

CD REVIEW



Some items
to consider


16th-19th November


Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 


alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS

 

 

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Ein Deutsches Requiem (1868)
Dorothea Röschmann (soprano)
Thomas Quasthoff (baritone)
Rundfunkchor Berlin
Berlin Philharmonic/Simon Rattle
rec. Philharmonie, Berlin, 26-29 October 2006
EMI CLASSICS 3 65393 2 [67:07]

 


My recent experiences of Rattle’s Brahms on disc have not been propitious. His D minor concerto performance with Zimerman was a fitful and ultimately disappointing reading (see review).  The fabric of indulgence and precious expressive devices which destabilised that performance led me to fear for the Requiem. But I must say that in this latest release, recorded live – though as is now commonplace in these kinds of things one would never know it – Rattle’ s command of Brahmsian rhetoric seems to me altogether in a different league.

I would concede that he still fails to resist an element of beautifying. There is evidence of the cultivation of momentary beauties as early as Selig sind die da Leid tragen. But of ancillary metrical manipulation there is little evidence. The pacing of the whole work, and on a paragraph by paragraph basis, is thoroughly convincing. One can note that in Denn alles Fleisch Rattle prefers a less dramatically etched, less rhythmically incisive, rhythmic profile to the classic Klemperer approach. But they are in fact not dissimilar in some respects. Rattle keeps his brass in check here and smoothes out some of the rhythmic contrasts. But the climaxes are splendidly presented and finely judged, Rattle offering a less grandly consoling vision than his eminent predecessor.

In fact the choir proves formidably attentive throughout. Its precision ensures that lines are never muddied and that the fugal and contrapuntal writing remains outstandingly clear. Allied to this is its obvious and impressively instant response to Rattle’s demands. The orchestra too is on top form, responding to the generous flow of their conductor’s direction. The cellos and violas sound especially fine.

In fact so much is excellent that a recommendation could be made on Rattle’s direction alone. However there are the soloists to consider and that’s where I feel very much more ambivalent. I think I understand what Thomas Quasthoff is trying to convey. His impassioned opening paragraphs in Herr, lehre doch mich convey frailty and the revelation of earthly vanities. But the means by which he conveys them seem to me too mannered. He changes vocal colour and tonal attack constantly, subjecting the line to an unmerciful buffeting. It’s not necessary to cite Fischer-Dieskau here – though I shall – because way back great singers such as Herbert Janssen (for Toscanini, in English in 1943) managed to sing with the kind of noble directness that did not imply the implacable or indeed preclude the desolate.  Quasthoff however is at least consistent, exemplifying his approach in Denn wir haben hier keine bleibende Stadt where his quasi-Wagnerian tonal disjunctions are reprised.

Dorothea Röschmann is a similarly fine artist and doesn’t present this kind of problem – but she does bring another to the mix. I find her effortful in Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit. There’s more than a touch of the hectoring about this kind of singing and her tone does - more often than it should – harden. It lends her performance a cool and distancing abrasion which I find unconsoling – and the rapidity of her vibrato adds to a tensile approach that similarly may not find favour.

But it would be wrong to end thus. If one can assimilate these vocal performances one will find Rattle’s direction powerful and intense. His is the greatest burden and he shapes and arches the work with real awareness. The audience, as noted earlier, is silent to what I would consider an unnatural degree but that’s hardly a demerit.

Jonathan Woolf 


 


Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.