Notes and Editorial Reviews
Zubin Mehta, cond; Chen Reiss (sop); Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bar); Gary Bertini Israeli Ch; Israel PO
HELICON 02-9629 (65:09) Live: Tel Aviv 10/2009
Do we need yet another Brahms Requiem CD? I alone have reviewed 10 for
over the last three years. The answer is “yes” if the “yet another” has something new and worthwhile to offer in this magnificent work. And on this disc—which brings together a veteran conductor and
orchestra, very fine soloists, and a newly formed chorus—much new and worthwhile is brought to the fore. As a bonus, there is the spontaneity of a live performance, with the distraction of the presence of an audience not perceptible.
Precision and clarity of part-writing are strongly in evidence in this performance. These virtues are especially notable in the complex fugal conclusion of the third movement and throughout the sixth movement. The opening movement is kept at a walking, but reverent, tempo so that it does not drag. The
Un poco sostenuto
(“Aber des Herrn Wort”) that concludes the second movement is strongly awakening. The
in the sixth movement is incisively delivered by orchestra and chorus. The final movement is reverentially affecting. There are some imperfections, but none are significantly detracting. Hanno Müller-Brachmann’s fine baritone voice sometimes lacks sufficient delivery power, especially in the early parts of the sixth movement. Soprano Chen Reiss has an operatic-vibrato voice quality that seems to me to be not fully suitable to the fifth movement’s requirements.
If you think you’ve covered the territory with possession of Brahms Requiems from Otto Klemperer to Simon Rattle with a few like Klaus Tennstedt in between, guess again. This live performance has enough sufficiently new and valid views of inner part-writing balance, phrase shaping, and dramatic effectiveness to make it a disc necessary to the understanding of Brahms’s great choral work.
FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
Works on This Recording
German Requiem, Op. 45 by Johannes Brahms
Chen Reiss (Soprano),
Hanno Müller-Brachmann (Bass Baritone)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,
Gary Bertini Israeli Chorus
Written: 1854-1868; Austria
Venue: Mann Auditorium, Tel-Aviv
Length: 64 Minutes 24 Secs.
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