Carlo Maria Giulini

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem

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Carlo Maria Giulini's version of Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Edinburgh International Festival Chorus is basically competent, but it fails to stir the blood. Giulini leads a conventional reading of the score that tends to downplay its contrasts. For example, the opening of the second movement, which should be harrowing in its dire pronouncement, "Behold, all flesh is as the grass," lacks the necessary chilling bleakness to set the scene for the return of the theme when it roars back in with devastating force later in the movement. While the orchestra and chorus perform with conviction, Giulini's lack of dramatic shaping weakens the impact of the performance. The soloists, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Ileana Cotrubas are very fine. Fischer-Dieskau, in particular, brings a gripping dramatic intensity to his solos. Cotrubas' voice is exceptionally sweet and impassioned, but both soloists are poorly miked and distant sounding. The live performance has a high level of buzz that's especially annoying in the quiet passages. Parts of the third movement are afflicted by a loud clicking that's completely distracting. Overall, there's not a lot to recommend this version of Brahms' masterpiece when there are so many superlative performances available.

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