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Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem [DVD] 
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Christian Thielemann leads the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in this performance of Johannes Brahms's 'Ein Deutsches Requiem' from 2007.
Much of the visual interest is provided by the batonless Christian Thielemann,using his eyes and large,eloquent hands,shaping the music into a truly impressive edifice.The quite small Bavarian Radio Choir are extremly clear in their choral textures,the orchestra are on top-notch form;Christian Gerhaher expounds his texts with Fischer-Dieskau-like feeling and authority,and Christine Schafer brings a lyric tone to Ihr habt nun Trautirkeit.A very impressive account of this marvellous work. Performance ***** Picture &Sound **** BBC MUSIC DVD CHOICE --BBC Music Magazine,Feb'11
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This was a live performance in the Philharmonie im Gasteig in Munich from Aril 2007 and the sound quality was really quite good, although biased a bit toward the chorus and organ - I eventually reduced the bass output because the organ o tended to dominate in certain passages (which could have something to do with the acoustics of my listening environment). This would not be a reason to pass up on this fine DVD, however. It was impressive that the audience withheld applause (as requested prior to the performance, which added to the overall experience. If I have any even slight disappointment with this fine video performance, it would have to be the lighting. There was a strange blue cast over the orchestra (they actually had lights on their music stands) as well as most of the chorus. The blue lighting was eventually replaced by more traditional brighter lighting over the orchestra but remained over the chorus. There was nothing in the accompanying notes about the lighting. Nonetheless, I found this a very satisfying addition to my growing DVD/Blue Ray collection of live orchestral performances and I doubt it will negatively affect my listening/viewing pleasure as time goes by. This is a terrific performance by a fine group of musicians under the guidance of a gifted interpreter of classic German repertory.
The Brahms Requiem is basically a choral work - most of the mass is sung by the chorus, the baritone has just barely two pieces leading the chorus, and the soprano just one solo piece.
It is those type of work that will easily fail to grip the audience should any one part of the performance flags.
Happily, this performance is homogeneously splendid.
Yes, Thielemann conducts from memory, giving the chorus vocal cues. It is truly amazing to see him guiding the ensemble through this massive work. The choir is not exactly large in numbers (compared to the live performance I went to earlier this year), but their performance is outstanding, for under Thielemann's guidance, they respond with detailed and responsive expressivity, some thing not to be taken for granted in a large ensemble.
The orchestra plays beautifully, too, with pristine sound balance of all different departments.
Christian Gerhaher sung the baritone part with great empathy and verbal incisiveness, while Christine Schafer is an awesome soloist in the soprano part.
It is a big surprise that this recording was of a live performance as early as April 2007, and still so 'little' known!