Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Ein deutsches Requiem Op. 45 (1857-68) [60:21]
Sylvia McNair (soprano); Håkan Hagegård (baritone)
Westminster Symphonic Choir/Joseph Flummerfelt
New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Kurt Masur.
rec. live, February-April 1995, Avery Fisher Hall, New York City. DDD
WARNER APEX 2564 65941-4 [60:21]

Experience Classicsonline



 
Very few recordings adhere literally to Brahms’ metronome markings but at just over the hour this performance is the fastest I know. Many other recordings routinely take anything from 65 to even 75 minutes. As such, Masur’s live version is of interest because it takes the risk of attempting to be more faithful to the composer’s apparent intentions. It is an interpretation which through its fleetness and lightness of touch evidently wishes to bring to the fore the qualities of compassion and consolation. These Brahms himself underlined in his declaration that the word “German” in the Requiem’s title could easily be substituted by “human”.
 
The danger is that it could come across as glib, diminishing the essential gravity of the piece. I do not find that to be the case: if anything this is a viable alternative to the more monolithic or even morbid interpretations which have stood the test of time. I am not saying that it is time for Klemperer, Karajan, Levine or Previn to move over. I am certainly not endorsing the Brahms-lite of Gardiner or Norrington, but this recording is a wholly valid antidote to more portentous versions. No doubt being freed from the rigid East German tradition encouraged Masur to be innovative in his approach to speed and rhythm.
 
Despite it being a speciality, Masur could on occasion during his tenure with the New York Philharmonic be dull and uninspired in Brahms. One reviewer even went so far as to describe performances of the symphonies and Requiem as “soporific”. Not so here; this has lift and spring - it is even brisk in parts, such is Masur’s desire to keep things moving. I would describe the prevailing mood as propulsive and underpinned by a refreshing element of tension; the only place where I found proceedings to feel rushed was in the second fugue in the sixth, penultimate movement.
 
The fugue in the third movement is a triumph, however. This was the location for the infamous disaster of the first performance, when the timpanist, misunderstanding the intent of Brahms’ marking “sempre con tutta la forza”, pounded away throughout, obliterating the other instruments and causing the audience to hiss in disapproval. No such problem here: Masur artfully balances the simplicity of the soloists’ plaintive melodies against the terrified and terrifying polyphonic outbursts of the choir, building to a stirring peroration.
 
Indeed, that harried second fugue apart, everything is judged very nicely. The sombre opening, shorn of upper strings, is intense yet we are not allowed to forget that the prevailing note is one of joy and blessedness. The gentle woodwind, very well tuned, add to the serenity. The grim Dance of Death - almost a macabre sarabande - of “Denn alles Fleisch” is superbly shaped. Masur’s treatment of the dotted notes in the lilting three-quarter-time passages provides more than a hint of consolation; likewise the “Wie lieblich sind Deine Wohnungen” is almost tripping and smiling. Håkan Hagegård’s vehement baritone is a little dry and light and the vibrato has marginally loosened since his recording for Levine in 1983 but it is still a powerful, focused sound without too much recourse to barking. I continue to prefer the darker-voiced José van Dam or Samuel Ramey - or even Hagegård’s younger self. The muted strings of “Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit” are meltingly beautiful. Sylvia McNair’s contribution will seem a little earthbound given that she must inevitably be compared with ethereally-voiced exponents such as Gundula Janowitz, Margaret Price, Kathleen Battle, Barbara Hendricks and Barbara Bonney; in such formidable company she is adequate: unfussy but undistinguished.
 
The articulation and dynamic shading of the choir are excellent; they are mostly very homogeneous, the odd stray sibilants notwithstanding. Their attack on “Aber des Herrn Wort” could be keener but they make up for that by the clarity of their enunciation in “und Schmerz und Seufzen” and the fierce momentum of “Tod, wo ist dein Stachel?”
 
The problematic Avery Fisher Hall acoustic is a bit dull, dead and bass-heavy but not damagingly so. Instruments and voices are very well balanced and there are very few coughs. One press review of the live performance complained of the “ugly” sound made by the electronic organ every time it entered - it plays during about a third of the work - but the recording seems to have tamed that obtrusiveness and its prolonged tonal pedals provide the necessary gravitas.
 
All in all, this is a worthy alternative to the plethora of recordings available, constituting something a little different. 

Ralph Moore 

Masterwork Index: Ein deutsches Requiem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools






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.