When Johannes Brahms composed Ein deutsches Requiem, he chose not to set the established Latin text of the Missa pro defunctis, which had been used by composers from Ockeghem to Berlioz, and selected instead verses from Martin Luther's German translation of the Bible. This marked a shift of emphasis from the Last Judgment and the pains of Hell evoked in the Dies Irae, Domine Jesu Christe, and Libera Me texts to a more humanistic approach of consolation and spiritual ease, more in accordance with Brahms' private agnosticism. To this end, Daniel Harding's interpretation of the score is about as gentle and comforting as could be wished, and the performance by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Choir conveys genuine expressions of solace and tenderness. Of course, the funereal tread of "Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras" still has the power to strike awe into listeners' hearts, though Harding's measured reading is perhaps less shattering than, say, John Eliot Gardiner's legendary recording with the Monteverdi Choir on Decca. Even so, with compelling solos from soprano Christiane Karg and baritone Matthias Goerne, a warm accompaniment from the orchestra, and exceptional choral singing throughout, this performance will appeal strongly to listeners who prefer a traditional take on Ein deutsches Requiem.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Ein deutsches Requiem Op. 45, A German Requiem|