If Johannes Brahms and not Franz Süssmayr had completed Mozart's Requiem, it might have sounded something like the performance on this 2006 reissue of a 1955 recording. Rudolf Kempe, the superlative Strauss conductor with an outstanding Brahms Requiem to his credit, leads an interpretation of unmitigated doom and unrelieved gloom. Usually one of the great orchestras of Europe, the Berlin Philharmonic's tone here is oppressive, the textures are heavy, and the colors are drab. Known in its time as a superb church choir, the Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale Berlin's tone here is sentimental, the textures are weighty, and the colors are dreary. While all the soloists are first rate -- the basso profundo of bass Gottlob Frick in the "Tuba mirum" is particularly impressive -- they sing as if the weight of their suffering has bowed them nearly to the ground. With clotted textures and a bottom-heavy acoustic, EMI's monaural recording is no help. Listeners looking for a modern instrument performance of the Requiem should seek out Karl Böhm's mournful and masterful recording with the Vienna Philharmonic. Only fans of Kempe and the soloists are likely to find this recording of more than passing interest.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Requiem for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, K. 626|