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01-01-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,074
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 1
Post ID: 21448
Reply to: 21448
The Deutsches Requiem of My Dreams
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For the past couple of months I have been fascinated with Brahms’ "Ein deutches Requiem". I have several versions, but none matched the version I would “hear in my head” whenever I was not actually listening to the piece, until I heard the 1947 version by the VPO, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, with the Choral Society of the Friends of Music, with Hans Hotter and Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, soloists. All names are worth mentioning, I think, because of the very high quality of this performance, in parts and as a whole. I LOVE the pacing and the voicing! I highly recommend this performance.

My copy is a rather nasty Naxos CD, 8.1110.38. I would be very pleased to find a better-sounding source.


Paul S
04-05-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,074
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 2
Post ID: 21621
Reply to: 21448
The LP version
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I managed to find a nice, early iteration of an early LP set (NM; 1-S stampers; 1951), and I first listened to this yesterday, with fairly lousy electricity. Some aspects of the sound were better than my CD, but mostly, oddly, both sources have the same problems with noise and something that sounds like "tracking issues", which seems weird in the case of the CD. Or, perhaps it is simply "overload" of the original transfer media, however the original recording was made and stored. I wish I could but I can't say I got any more Music from the LPs in this case. It appears (as I'd feared) that the problems with the master (or dubs) were "there" by the time the LP producers did their thing. Now I'm wondering (again) if the earliest 78s have the same sonic problems or if they are free of the problems I've heard so far. It doesn't come up often for me, but when it does, I wish I had left the door open for 78s...

Kudos, after all, to the CD producers; not bad at all, considering what they had to work with.

FWIW, this is still a nice rendition of the piece, when the electricity allows it at all.


Paul S
05-10-2016 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,074
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 3
Post ID: 22614
Reply to: 21621
Mengelberg, Live, 1940
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Since my last post to this thread I have listened to a few more versions of Ein deutsches Requiem, and I plan to share my thoughts about some of them, starting with the best so far. This is the 1940 live performance by the Concertgebouw Orchestra with the Amsterdam Toonkunst Chior under Willem Mengelberg. Soloists are soprano Jo Vincent and baritone Max Kloos (almost a heroic tenor, IMO). My CD is a Japanese re-dux issued under the Philips label that – apparently – is adequate to get the Music and the performance across, though I hardly recommend it in “audio” terms.

Despite the “technical difficulties”, I urge everyone to immediately buy this CD. The performance is everything I love about Brahms and great classical performances, both. While others seem to play EdR either “fast” or “slow”, Mengelberg and his artists seem here to be “free of time constraints” as they bring this work to life in a totally “organic” way. Everyone in the ensemble plays an important role in this production. The orchestra is mesmerized by Mengelberg, and they never balk or drag as they serve the phenomenal singers. Kloos has to be heard to be believed, and Jo Vincent is simply angelic. The chorale is so expressive and perfectly dynamic that I get wave after wave of goosebumps as I listen. The orchestra is as good as any I’ve ever heard, and the “archaic”, lilting violins actually add rather than detracting here. There is one point where Vincent’s voice fades to a clarinet, which fades to a flute. Sounds gimmicky, right? Well, it is beautiful here, like everything is during this performance. To top it off, the work entire is as coherent as might be imagined, uplifting, exhausting, and fulfilling, the Master Work of a Master Composer.

Paul S


05-21-2016 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,074
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 4
Post ID: 22622
Reply to: 22614
Surprising DDR Amateurs
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Here is a very interesting double LP set from the old DDR, "Johannes Brahms, Ein deutsches Requiem, Musik in der Wedeler Kirche". Other information on the gatefold jacket includes: Heidrun Heinke, Sopran; Gustav Hehring, Bass; Kantorei Kammerchor der VHS Wedel und das Wedeler Kammerorchester; Leitung, Heinz Kegel; Live-Mitschnitt der Auffeuhrung am 18.11.1978. Tonaufnahme, Reiner Jankowski. I looked all over the web for more information, and all I turned up was an open invitation to come join the still-extant community group(s).

What is most surprising to me about this performance is that this is a community chamber orchestra and "chamber" chorale who - apparently - were not told or sold the idea that they could not do this.  I find the performance quite satisfying, and it is surprisingly balanced and coherent. Certainly it lacks the power of a full orchestra and chorale comprised of experienced professionals; but somehow this group seems to "get" the material, and - somehow - they are able to put it across.  If you ever want to think way less of your own local professionals, give a listen to this "rustic" EdR.

Paul S
06-12-2016 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,074
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 5
Post ID: 22655
Reply to: 22622
Gifted DDR Professionals
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Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester, Leipzig/Herbert Kegel; Rundfunkchor, Leipzig/Jorg-Peter Weigle; Mari Anne Hoggander, soprano; Siegfried Lorenz, baritone. Recorded in the Paul Gerhardt Kirche, Leipzig, 1985. Brilliant Classics CD, 2012.

 

Here is another grouping from the DDR, except these are professional musicians, singers, and conductors, and it is a full orchestra and chorus.  This is a very good group, and it is a fine performance done in a “mid-tempo” that is adhered to pretty closely throughout. The soloists are excellent, and they seem like opera singers, which is not so much bad as it just seems “inappropriate” to me, considering the nature of the piece. The chorus is remarkably good in terms of vocal skills. I guess I wish they were looser. Likewise, the orchestra; they can’t be faulted; I would like to hear them looser. The recording gets the job done.

 

Re-reading the foregoing, I’m afraid I seem lukewarm about this performance, which is not the case. If I’d never heard the old Mengelberg version, this one would be my new favorite, as IMO the overall performance is "better realized" than the early H v Karajan.

 

Paul S

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