Among the variously described 25-40,000 civilian casualties sustained in the Allied bombing of Dresden on February 13, 1945, were 11 of the 18 choirboys belonging to the Dresden Kreuzchor. This tragic event impelled choirmaster Rudolf Mauersberger to compose one of the most eloquent and moving major choral works of the twentieth century, the Dresdner Requiem, between 1945 and 1951. For some reason, complete recordings of this lengthy work have never been made prior to Carus Verlag's recording with the Dresden Kreuzchor in 1994; justifiably famous excerpts appeared in the 1950s featuring the voice of an exceptional choirboy, Peter Schreier, though none since. Mauersberger's Requiem is remarkable not only because of the harrowing circumstances under which it was created, but as the idiom of his style represents a seamless combination of Renaissance harmonic technique with the more parallel and secundal harmonic language of the twentieth century. That may sound more technical than "beautiful," but beautiful it is, in the extreme. Carus Verlag's recording is adequate, if not great; the Dresden Kreuzchor have performed the Dresdner Requiem work frequently, particularly in radio broadcasts, and the interpretation is not at issue as Mauersberger's music is in the blood of this chorus. However, in maintaining a sense of distance between the men and boys choruses, and, apart from that, the scant instrumental component of the work, Carus Verlag errs in bringing a recording that cannot be clearly heard all the way through. Sometimes you really have to strain to hear the boys above a distant, wispy wash of sound, and then ultimately the trumpets come to blow you out of your seat; the recording requires far too much jockeying of the volume knob to be considered a comfortable listen. One is nevertheless grateful for the opportunity to hear this great masterwork in its entirety, something Deutsche Grammophon should've done some four decades before this Carus Verlag CD appeared.
AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis
|Dresden, cycle for chorus a cappella, RMWV 4/1|
|Dresdner Requiem, RMWV 10|