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Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem / Albrecht, Ziesak, Jarnot, Winklhofer

Brahms / Mrso / Bach-choir / Ziesak / Albrecht
Release Date: 02/22/2011 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 787  
Composer:  Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Friedemann WinklhoferRuth ZiesakKonrad Jarnot
Conductor:  Hansjörg Albrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach ChoirMunich Radio Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRAHMS A German Requiem Hansjörg Albrecht, cond; Ruth Ziesak (sop); Konrad Jarnot (bar); Munich Bach Ch; Munich RO OEHMS OC 787 (68:34)

There are 88 available recordings of the great Brahms Requiem, according to ArkivMusic, and I alone have reviewed more than 10 for Fanfare . Do we need yet another Brahms Requiem CD? “The answer is ‘yes’ if the ‘yet another’ has something new and worthwhile to offer in the performance of this magnificent work,” I Read more replied in a previous review. That, of course, does not mean that every favorably reviewed disc necessarily belongs in everyone’s collection. Conductor Hansjörg Albrecht, his soloists and chorus, and the Munich Radio Orchestra bring forth a truly worthy offering of Brahms’s masterpiece. Clarity of choral and orchestral detail are noteworthy here, especially orchestral detail, although not consistently so.

The opening movement (“Selig sind, die da Leid tragen”) is taken at a rather slow tempo in contrast to the faster tempo of the reflexively parallel concluding movement (“Selig sind die Toten”). This contrast is seductive, even when separated by five intervening movements that total almost 50 minutes. The complex fugue that concludes the third movement is a bit too muddled (as is the case in many other otherwise fine performances—blame Brahms for his thickly textured writing), but the violin-section line can be heard more clearly here than anywhere else in my memory—and a beautiful line it is. The complex sixth movement begins with a very slow, ominous tempo, which is all the more effective against the entry of the contrasting fortissimo after zu der Zeit der letzten Posaune.

The technical quality of this performance is excellent on the part of the conductor, orchestra, soloists, and chorus. My only complaint, a personal one, is that Konrad Jarnot’s baritone has too much vibrato for this music, especially in the third movement. In the sixth movement, Jarnot sounds much better.

This is a fine and dedicated performance of the Brahms Requiem from which the listener comes away with a better understanding of the music and its message. The competition may be formidable, viz. Klemperer, Rattle, and Tennstedt, to name but a few, but this is a good one to have.

FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
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Works on This Recording

German Requiem, Op. 45 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Friedemann Winklhofer (Organ), Ruth Ziesak (Soprano), Konrad Jarnot (Baritone)
Conductor:  Hansjörg Albrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Bach Choir,  Munich Radio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1854-1868; Austria 

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