James Levine / Boston Symphony Orchestra

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem

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One of BSO Classics' first self-produced and -distributed recordings, this performance of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem by James Levine and the Boston Symphony is sadly tedious. Levine's tempos are not so much slow as torpid, his textures not so much thick as turgid, and his phrasing not so much smooth as soporific. The Boston Symphony plays with lugubrious professionalism without seeming to put more than a minimal amount of effort into the performance. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus sings with dutiful dullness and a mournful tone that hardly compensate for the dreadful diction. Soprano Christine Schäfer is perhaps a tad too arch, and baritone Michael Volle is certainly too blustery. Of BSO Classics' super audio sound, the less said the better; suffice it to say that on ordinary playback equipment, it is entirely ordinary. There are dozens of better recorded performances of this magnificent work -- Klemperer's, Kempe's, and Furtwängler's, to name three.

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