38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Precise, clear, magnificent
This will be the definitive recording of Robert Shaw's English translation of the Brahms Requiem. Shaw's own Telarc recording of the Brahms (in German) has been criticized as magnificent but muddy. Craig Jessop's recording of the Brahms (in English) is magnificent and clear as a bell. Hearing it broadcast (as a tribute to Mr. Shaw), I immediately wrote Dr. Jessop a...
Published on March 24, 2000 by James A. Thorson
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars typical
This recording typifies recordings of masterworks by the mormon tabernacle choir and friends. It is, as usual, technically ok, and rather on the bland side. The diction, while sometimes clear, frequently features overprominent stress of consonants; a typical feature of amateur choirs. The soloists perform amicably with a strained sounding translation. The soprano sounds...
Published on July 19, 2006 by K. Andersen
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Precise, clear, magnificent,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)This will be the definitive recording of Robert Shaw's English translation of the Brahms Requiem. Shaw's own Telarc recording of the Brahms (in German) has been criticized as magnificent but muddy. Craig Jessop's recording of the Brahms (in English) is magnificent and clear as a bell. Hearing it broadcast (as a tribute to Mr. Shaw), I immediately wrote Dr. Jessop a letter of congratulations and went on-line to purchase a copy of this album from Amazon.com. Craig Jessop sang with Mr. Shaw for many years (indeed, he appears in many of the recordings made by the Robert Shaw Festival Chorus). He leared all of Shaw's techniques. One of the best is to have the chorus "count" out the rhythm (over and over again) during rehearsals. He did this when he conducted a March, 1996, presentation of the Brahms Requiem done by the Omaha Symphonic Chorus and Omaha Symphony. I told him afterwards that he got from us the best that we had to give. He has now done this with a considerably bigger chorus; the precision of the singing is astounding; this recording is evidence of the genius of his conducting. It is absolutely clear, pure to the music of the master, sensitive, and powerful. The Utah Symphony's work is admirable. I would urge those who are hesitant to listen to an English version of a work that is so familiar in German to experience this album.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Transcendent Work,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)I participated in this recording as a singer in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was a tremendously moving experience, made even more poignant by the recent death of Robert Shaw, who was to have directed it. Conductor Craig Jessop was very close to Mr. Shaw, and his own father also passed away within days of Shaw.
All of this multiplied the impact of Brahms beautiful Requiem in our hearts, for it was for this very purpose -- to comfort those who have lost a loved one -- that it was written. This was one of those times in life when I have felt very close to Heaven, and I hope that comes across to other listeners. I would recommend this recording especially to anyone who mourns. Hearing it in English is an advantage for those who do not understand German, because the text magnifies the compassion and hope of the music.
I am a little bit puzzled by the person who was disappointed in the diction. Of course, clear diction is very difficult for a Choir of over 300 voices, but we worked very hard on it. To my ear the text is easily understood, though I will admit it may be because I am so familiar with it. Still, I want to point out that TelArc�s Recording Engineers actually asked us to back off on our diction -- they felt we were overdoing it and it interfered with the beauty of the music. If you have difficulty discerning the text, I recommend you take out the CD insert and read along.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great work...A great recording,
By A Customer
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)If you can get over hearing this work sung in English (some people find it unfitting for a German Requiem to be sung in English), then you'll find that this recording is indeed a treasure. Some major highlights for me are: the sound (Telarc rarely lets you down on sound), the wonderful job done by the timpani player, and finally, the clear diction of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The Utah Symphony does a wonderful job as a whole playing this work.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars match made in heaven,
By A Customer
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)Being a resident of Utah, I was enthused to find a collaboration with Telarc and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Utah Symphony. Moreover, Robert Shaw himself had planned to do this recording, but died three weeks before he could do so. Nonetheless, his works/notes/translations of Brahms' requiem into English have survived and in beautiful fashion! If you have heard this work by Brahms before, you won't be disappointed. The signature fourth movement and also the sixth movement are particularly moving! I'm sure Maestro Shaw is smiling up there...
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Luminous Brahms Requiem in English,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)Among the handful of great recordings of the Brahms German requiem, this version by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is a buried treasure. It is undoubtedly a deeply humane recording, brimming with the spirit that Brahms wanted us to feel when we listen to this work. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has never sounded as immediate and subtly-nuanced as they do in this finely-recorded Telarc performance of a superb English adaptation of the Brahms German Requiem by the late Robert Shaw, and it captures the melancholy, radiance and luminous beauty that abounds throughout this beautiful work. One only needs to listen to the first, second and fourth movements to experience the contrasting moods of the Choir, with its consistend impeccable musicianship. The soloists that Craig Jessop has chosen for this recording are superb and magnificent, conveying the right moods in their solo passages. Janice Chandler's ethereal soprano solo in the fifth movement has an otherworldly quality that reminds us that the death of Brahms's mother was one of the key influences on the work, and Nathan Gunn subtly varies the mood of his contributions according to the text. His helpless and vulnerable tone manifests itself in the third movement, Lord, make me to know (Herr, lehre doch mich). I admit that some listeners who review after me may find him a whiney soloist in this movement, but he fits the mood of the solo parts perfectly. He also conveys an optimistic strength in the sixth movement, coping admirably with the hopefulness of the text. The Utah Symphony Orchestra plays with idiomatic conviction and rises to the demands of this music as admirably as you would expect from the Vienna or Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras, and Telarc's recorded sound is as realistic and crystal-clear as always. An added plus about this release is the informative and lucid sleeve note by Nick Jones, complete with a movement-by-movement analysis to match the printed corresponding texts. Overall, this is a recording of the Brahms German Requiem I can recommend heartily to stand alongside any existing recordings of the work by the likes of Gardiner and Klemperer, and I'm sure that this recording will go a long way in popularising performances of this beautiful choral work in English.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a standout, especially Nathan Gunn,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)After having just seen Nathan Gunn perform a different work in person, I'm convinced that he's one of the greatest baritones on the planet. I found this piece absolutely captivating -- I can't stop playing it, especially the lovely 2nd and 3rd movements. Gunn's solos are exceptional and make the disc worth owning. I don't see how others have criticized the enunciation when in fact the English is very clear and easy to follow. In short order, this has become one of my favorite classical CD's of the year. If you haven't discovered Mr. Gunn yet, you owe it to yourself to check out this recording.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Chorale Performance Brings Brahms' Masterwork to Life...in English!,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)The world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir is 325 members strong, and the wall of sound from such a vocal force of nature is bound to be overwhelming. On this recording, they often overpower the Utah Symphony, but the combined effect is still quite moving with the sincere sense of emotional commitment from all concerned, and the singing is impressive. The piece performed here, Brahms' longest single work, is a deeply religious, offering solace to the bereaved with texts from the Bible and concurrently a painting a series of dramatic pictures with particular emphasis on messages such as man's insignificance before God and subsequent redemption by faith. Yet it transcends its spiritual elements to become a more universally humanist, secular work.
Musical director Robert Shaw translated the Brahms Requiem from the original German but sadly died less than three weeks before this 1999 CD was to be recorded. The associate director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the time, Craig Jessop, took Shaw's place for the recording and remained true to his predecessor's vision. The singing is strong, clear and well balanced among sections and between chorus and soloists considering the acoustic challenges of the Mormon Tabernacle's huge, unusual size and shape. Baritone Nathan Gunn does his usual stellar work on "Lord, make me to know" and "Here on Earth have we no continuing place", while soprano Janice Chandler shines on "Ye now are sorrowful". As the titles of the movements signify, the only compromise in the recording is the sometimes too literal translation of the text making for some awkward phrasing probably because Jessop was intent to stay true to Shaw's adaptation. At the same time, because the choir is so disciplined and synchronized, Brahms' writing does not ensure clear understanding of the words no matter what language is sung. Nonetheless, this is a fine German Requiem and well worth a serious listen.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brahms Well Adapted into English,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)I have loved Brahms' German Requiem since I sang it (in English) over thirty years ago as part of the chorus with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra. Some purists may disdain the performance of this magnficent piece of music in English. Dr. Cormier, who directed the Chattanooga Symphony at the time, suggested it would be easier to teach a bunch of college students, mostly from the Southeastern USA, to sing it in English than to teach them to pronounce the German correctly and then learn the music properly. I suspect he was correct.
Enough with nostalgia. Several things stand out for me with this recording. First, my favorite recording of the Brahms' Requiem in the original German is that done by The Atlanta Symphony and Chorus directed by Robert Shaw. Second, this libretto is a new adaptation into English done by Dr. Shaw, who knew this music intimately and loved it dearly. Finally, I have long desired a recording in English as a companion to my disc in German.
This disc admirably fulfills my needs. Dr. Shaw's adaptation is both faithful to the scriptural base of the German Requiem and singable. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir brings a depth and richness to the performance that brought tears to my eyes in several places. It is a fitting memorial tribute to the great maestro who prepared this work but did not live to record it himself.
One portion of the recording sticks with me as being particularly effective. The phrase, which I offer in English, "For Lo, the grass withereth" crescendos very rapidly and then falls back softly just as rapidly on the last part of the word withereth. If done well, it has the quality of weeping, moaning lament. The Mormon Tabernacle gets it just right.
If you love this requiem in German, and desire a fine companion in English, this is a recording I can heartily recommend. I would repeat again, it is also a fitting requiem tribute to Dr. Robert Shaw.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best recording available today,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)I sang in a performance of this work and as a result, became pleasantly obsessed with it, which led to listening to many recordings. This one is the best. Don't be put off by its not being in German; Brahms' motive in writing it in German in the first place was to make it accessible, and if you're an English speaker the English version will be more accessible to you. I know of no other work in which the music so perfectly and beautifully expresses the Biblical passages that are lyricized -- and I'm not even a Christian!
A shortcoming of many recordings of this work is for the soprano solo in the fifth movement to wax too dramatic and operatic. Listen to a few samples on line; you'll see what I mean. The movement expresses the purest, simplest feelings of grief and sympathy imaginable; it does not need dramatization. This recording gets it just right.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Mormon Tabernacle Choir fan,
This review is from: German Requiem (Audio CD)When listening to this recording, one must remember that for all their fame and fortune, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is NOT a classical performer. Yes, they do fine in anthems and church hymns. But there is a reason why they don't touch music like Berlioz, Poulenc, and Shostakovich.
With this in mind, it really isn't appropriate to compare this to traditional performances like Klemperer's or Karajan's. However, I felt it deserved a 5-star rating for its uniqueness as an English language arrangement and its overall musicianship.
The Choir was wise to use an English language rendition, since that is their specialty. Some users have expressed concerns with Robert Shaw's use of the King James Bible (apparently Brahms went to great lengths to avoid it), but it was not really an issue for me. I thought the English text did a fine job expressing the intent of this work.
The diction was not an issue with me either. I have always had trouble understanding classically sung English, and regularly consult librettos whenever available.
I found the choir's work in Movement 1 quite good; it was nice to hear the soprano high A sung instead of screeched. The fugue in the Movement 2 was also quite effective, although I've heard more exciting renditions. Movement 4 to me was the choir's best work. The exhausting Movement 6 came off with great control.
The soloists Janice Chandler and Nathan Gunn have beautiful voices. But for me, they lacked a certain "bite" needed to bring out the drama and emotion that fill the pages of this music. Brahms Requiem is not Gregorian Chant. It is very passionate, moving music.
Recorded Feb 1999, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Full English texts included.
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