Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

BRAHMS: 'Ein deutsches Requiem' op. 45.    Maria Stader, Otto Wiener. Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale, Berliner Motettenchor, Berliner Philharmoniker. Fritz Lehmann. DG The Originals Mono 457-710-2 [79m] ADD.
Save around 22% with



Spirit and comfort are the main factors behind this unique 'Requiem'. Indeed the words offer solace for the living instead of a prayer for the dead, quite an interesting afterthought. This intriguing and comparatively rare recording comes into direct competition with Rudolf Kempe's similarly broad EMI recording of a year later. Fritz Lehmann is an underrated conductor although it is obvious that he has a real feel for Brahms and his grand romantic gestures. Indeed this is a reading in the best German traditions with slow speeds and immense momentum, just the right choices for such a brooding work, one would reflect.

There is also pungency of spirit that is notably absent from the Karajan recording (EMI 1975) and that is certainly due to Lehmann's brilliance at portraying the proceedings. The conductor sets the tone in the First Movement, a simple blaze of power throughout although the calmer moments are quite beautifully done. Lehmann's 'Henn lehre doch mich' is beautiful for its marmoreal intensity and impressive pathos. The orchestra is the chief protagonist here with its rising declamations and perfect ensemble making the ideal contribution. Both soloists are also finely honed and marvelously tuned especially Maria Stader's 'Ihr habt nur Trauerkgeit', a self-contained movement of drama and inconsolable grief.

It is a great pity that Lehman was to die just a year after this recording was made, he would undoubtedly have given us much acclaimed versions of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and other works of similar importance. As the Originals series continues to unearth such treasures from the monophonic archives, it continues to be made obvious that DG's world did not begin and end with Karajan and Furtwangler, especially in Berlin.

This Lehman Requiem also boasts the accomplished and natural singing of the St. Hedwig's Cathedral Choir and the Berliner Motettenchor, two ensembles deeply steeped in the German choral tradition and who provide an authoritative alternative when compared to the staid and fleshless contributions of the Wiener Singverein for Karajan. Otto Klemperer's justly famous EMI set is also recommendable but for pathos, spirituality and ultimately comfort, Fritz Lehmann's timeless, superbly recorded performance takes pride of place amongst the historic versions of this enigmatic but beautiful 'Requiem'



Gerald Fenech



Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links
but you can also purchase

Return to Index