8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An effective but fleet and lighter weight performance.,
This review is from: Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 (Audio CD)
There are many recordings of the German Requiem of Brahms, and I have seven of them in my library. John Eliot Gardiner's interpretation, with his Orchestre Revolutionanaire et Romantique, the Monteverdi Choir, Charlotte Margiono, and Rodney Gilfry on Philips, is fleet and somewhat light-weight. It is a studio recording from 1990. Gardiner's tempi are the quickest by far yet never seem rushed. I've always liked this performance, but in light of those mentioned below it is relatively cerebral.
Other recordings I rank at a slightly higher level than this one and recommend with greater enthusiasm:
1. Herreweghe and the Orchestre des Champs Elysees on Harmonia Mundi. This recordng ranks among the finest and is unique in the clarity of voices, whether solo, choral, or orchestral. The woodwinds and brass are never covered by the strings, yet the string sections sound full and play with precision. The soloists are not over-miked and their voices seem to come from the midst of the greater ensemble. Especially impressive and touching is the singing of Gerald Finley (although his command of German has greatly improved since this recording).
2. James Levine and the Chicago Symphony and Chorus with Battle and Hagegard on RCA/BMG, a 1983 studio recording recently re-released on Universal at a low budget price. Levine and the Chicago deliver a big, heart-on-sleeve sound yet pay loving attention to details and the soloists sing exquisitely.
3. Rafael Kubelik with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Chorus with Edith Mathis and Wolfgang Brendel on Audite. Recorded in concert (with no audience sounds) in 1978 and issued recently in glorious sound by Audite, this performance is generous in every way: fine musicianship, deep emotion, and rich sound.
4. Rudolph Kempe with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Choir of St. Hedwig's with Elizabeth Gruemmer and the young (therefore not yet fussy and mannered) Fischer-Dieskau. This is a very fine mono recording from 1956 still found on EMI. There are days when I think this is the best of the best in every respect. The playing and singing is exemplary in very way.
5. Okay, now what happened to the Robert Shaw recording on Telarc? I've left it to last because Amazon states up front that this is the recording people "ultimately" buy. Maybe so, but I wouldn't click on "Buy Now" until I had heard samplings of these other recordings. Yes, Shaw and his musicians are amazing in their dedication to the work. It is a great performance. I have always found it necessary to boost the treble and perhaps reduce the bass to get a clear sound with this recording.
As for the other available versions, many are very fine indeed; yet I think none of them quite reaches the heights of the five I've listed above.