Please review the initial excercises I suggested, or please suggest your own. Feel free to begin the discussion as soon as you begin to listen to the tracks, and begin to form your own understanding of the music.
Information regarding our two versions:
Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op.45
- Composer: Johannes Brahms</a>
- Conductor: Claudio Abbado</a>
- Performer: Andreas Schmidt</a>
- Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Of the "big-band" versions available, Claudio Abbado's newest with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Swedish Radio Chorus and Eric Ericson Chamber Choir (Deutsche Grammophon 437 517-2) is a winner. Taken from live concerts, there are the expected minor glitches: audience coughs, occasional end-of-word consonants that are not perfectly lined up, etc. But the overall impact and beauty of the playing and singing is top-drawer.
Cheryl Studer is a radiant soprano soloist, and Andreas Schmidt's baritone contribution is admirable for its warmth and depth--though the real star of the recording is still the choir. Through the years, the DG engineers seem increasingly better able to cope with the odd flatness of Berlin's Philharmonie as a recording venue, and the recorded sound for this release is full and rich with no lack of detail.
- Composer: Johannes Brahms
- Conductor: Herbert Blomstedt, Vance George, et al.
- Performer:Wolfgang Holzmair, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz
- Label: Decca
Blomstedt's recording with the forces of the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus emphasizes the consolatory side of Brahms' Requiem, keeping things moving effectively in music that can easily seem heavy and lugubrious. The second movement, a sort of funeral march in triple time, and the fourth, choral movement especially gain from this treatment.
The two soloists in this recording, while not exactly liabilities, do not break from the rest of a pack that includes luminaries like Kiri te Kanawa and Sherrill Milnes among singers who have recorded these brief but important parts. Norberg-Schultz is a bit edgy in her high-lying solo and Wolfgang Holzmair sounds lightweight and occasionally is swamped by the massed choral and orchestral forces. Still, overall, this is a very good choice for a CD of this great choral work.
Here are a few urls discussing the history and context of this piece:
Brahms German Requiem - Programme Notes, by John Bawden MMus, LTCL, Musical Director Fareham Philharmonic Choir
Brahms' German Requiem: History and Criticism, by Nancy Thuleen, University of Wisconsin, Madison.