Johannes Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem is universally regarded as his choral masterpiece and held by many as a major influence on humanist requiems of the modern era. To avoid the conventions of the Roman Catholic missa pro defunctis, Brahms chose benign texts from the Lutheran Bible that emphasized compassion, offering solace and hope for the living while minimizing the gloomy aspects of death and the afterlife. Marin Alsop leads the MDR Leipzig Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra in this collaboration between the MDR label and Naxos, and the performance is characterized by a vibrant warmth that enfolds the listener and a mellow lyricism that is uplifting. Alsop controls the pacing of the music with steady tempos and draws out radiant sonorities from the choir and orchestra that reveal how indebted the piece is to Beethoven, particularly to the sublime Kyrie of the Missa Solemnis. While there are dramatic sections that provide extreme contrasts, such as the ominous funereal tread of Denn alles Fleisch and the startling joy of the fugal setting of Die Erlöseten des Herrn, the dominant mood of Ein deutsches Requiem is understated and peaceful. The great hall of Leipzig's Gewandhaus is spacious and responsive, though the recording has immediate presence and the voices are never swallowed up by the acoustics.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Ein Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), Op. 45|