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Ein Deutsches Requiem Original recording remastered

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (23 Mar. 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0001HAHDW
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,725,399 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD because it was cheap and I was curious about Karajan's 'dinosaur' approach to this type of repertoire. Well, I was staggered! There is a white-hot intensity that I've not encountered in any other performance of this piece.

It's brought about by Karajan's direction, Schwarzkopf's heavenly voice and the wonderful baritones of Hotter. There's something eerily glorious about the choir's sound and with a sympathetic balance in the mono recording, the whole thing goes along wonderfully. The VPO has definitely played better than this, but that's a small grumble. I'm converted!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8f602054) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f6083fc) out of 5 stars Sonic update of a moving historical document 19 Feb. 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This 1947 recording is one of Karajan's most impressive before the long-playing record. Overall, as an exponent of the German Requiem he had few peers on disc except for Klemperer and, much later on, Tennstedt. On this occasion, literally in the ruins of bombed-out Vienna, we hear reverence, intensity and emotional force. It's as if the soul of postwar Europe was crying out to God, and it's our good fortune that the sonics are so good, since they werre laid down on wax masters, not tape. Every detail of the chorus and soloists comes through; although the orchestral texture isn't the clearest, it has enough impact and solid (not bomy) bass without shrillness in the upper end.

The vocal soloists and conductor had just been signed by EMI's chief producer, Walter Legge, who traveled to Vienna for the purpose of finding new artists for the label. On the verge of stardom, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf is radiant and beautiful in her one extended solo, but it is Hans Hotter who reaches greatness here. His voice is totally firm and clear -- not always the case as his career progressed -- and he expresses Brahms's Protestant fervency with complete commitment. It is impossible to overpraise this document of a turning pooint in postwar history and a musical monument that does full justice to a world desperate for peace. The remastering is a welcome sonic update, although I don't detect startling improvements compared to EMI's original issue.

P.S. 2011 -- Besides this EMI remastering, there is a rival version done for Naxos Historical using existing shellacs rather than masters. Even so, it is worth hearing; to find Naxos Historical you have to go to online stores in Europe and the UK, since it isn't available in the US for copyright reasons.

P.P.S. - I feel compelled to quote from Richard Osborne's touching review in The Gramophone: "The intonation of some members of the Singverein occasionally wavers--there was no heating in the hall and some probably had not seen a decent meal for a week--but Karajan and Legge were endlessly patient and Schwarzkopf herself stood in the midst of the sopranos in many of the takes to give them added confidence and surety. The result is an articulation of the text so tender, so sad, so telling that one is no longer listening to a performance of a piece of music but to a sublime meditation on sacred texts ..."
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90763498) out of 5 stars Minus one star for concealing the age of the recording 6 May 2004
By pm444 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First, this is a classic recording of the Brahms' "Requiem", recorded in 1947 in a Vienna that was still suffering the ravages of war. There is an urgency and sincerity in this performance that speaks to the listener across the years and leaves an indelible impression. The first EMI CD of this recording was in barely acceptable sound, with a great deal of surface noise and distortion in the loud passages. This remastering is a major improvement and allows one to fully enjoy the memorable performance without having to put up with the sonic distractions of the older remastering.
However, as the two previous reviewers point out, it's truly shameful that EMI chose to conceal the age of this recording as well as the fact that it is in mono. The whole point of such a reissue is to offer a better version of an historical recording, and EMI's shady marketing tricks are an affront to the company's continuing program of remastering classic recordings, which they offer at reasonable prices.
Granted, EMI has a tendency to overdo it when it comes to capitalizing on its back catalog (I've read that EMI remains financially solvent only because of profits from the countless Callas reissues that seem to appear almost daily). Nevertheless, EMI has been a pioneer in using new technology to restore old recordings, and in doing so, has provided a valuable service to lovers of classical music. It's unfortunate that they've tarnished their reputation with a needless ruse, thus alienating both new listeners and those of us who have enjoyed EMI recordings for many years.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fe167bc) out of 5 stars memorable performance despite imperfections 8 Jan. 2010
By Ivor E. Zetler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Avoid this release if you are seeking perfection; what is on offer however is an historic document of the first order. Karajan and the Vienna forces, emerging from the embers of World War 2, present a ardent and powerful rendition of the Brahms Requiem. This is the earliest commercially version of this work that I am aware of. The recording, though elderly, has a clarity that is quite acceptable though it is hardly high fidelity. Furthermore the diminished chorus sounds strained, particularly in the higher vocal passages. Hans Hotter and Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, both fresh voiced and firm toned, are exceptional soloists. All in all an historic performance of great note.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f608618) out of 5 stars Something special despite the historical sound 18 July 2016
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Karajan was a master of this score and any of his four studio recordings on CD is recommendable, but this first one from 1947 certainly has a special quality despite the relative primitiveness of the sound. EMI should be castigated for concealing just how venerable this mono recording is, although the seasoned historical buff will have no objection. Nonetheless, being remastered first from 78's on to tape then on to CD, there is some swish, crackle and mild distortion, even if the clarity is remarkable for its era and I can listen to it with pleasure, given the intensity of the performance.

The post-war choir is audibly depleted and under-nourished, both literally and figuratively, but they are deeply committed and there is a kind of touching vulnerability to their utterance. The orchestra is remarkably fine and one can hear why German orchestras were so quick to rebuild after the war, despite having lost so many musicians to the exodus and purges. The story has oft been told how Schwarzkopf, specially selected for the solo by her eventual husband Walter Legge, herself bolstered the sopranos in the choruses and we hear a youthful Hans Hotter in magisterial form, declaiming like an archangel. Schwarzkopf is certainly ethereal; some will hear her as tremulous, others as shimmering but she is in best voice for her, if you like her sound.

Tempi are generally marmoreal but reverential and the overall effect is deeply moving. This cannot be recommended over a later recording such as that with Janowitz and Waechter or the digital one with Hendricks and van Dam but it will appeal to the Romantic in anyone tolerant of slightly compromised mono sound. I would very much like to hear what Pristine could do with this, applying Ambient Stereo and their inimitable clean-up techniques.
HASH(0x8f6086cc) out of 5 stars Beautiful! 13 Oct. 2015
By Marcelino Plaza - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
... and that is precisely the performance's main problem. From practically the onset of his career (and Karajan was not yet 40 when this German Requiem was set down in wax 78 rpm matrices in a Vienna semi-destroyed in the aftermath of World war II and occupied by the victorious allied forces) Karajan could fall into the trap of being more aware of how what was being played sounded than of the character of what was being played. He was an outstandingly gifted conductor and musician, mind you, but that obsession of his for beauty of sound per se, which would gradually increase as he grew older sometimes conspired against the result he obtained. George Bernard Shaw's remark on this work is downright silly, but Karajan's approach misses the point to a significant extent in a work that is about consolation, acceptance of the inevitability of death, peace of mind and relief. In the rather dour and stoic world of Lutheranism there's little room for the anguish and fear of God (by the way, not mentioned even once in the texts selected by Brahms) that typifies the Catholic Church's regard on death. If you're tackling this work that's an aspect you cannot leave aside.

I have yet to come to terms with most recorded versions of this work, notoriously difficult to bring off, so in a way the choice will respond to your taste, philosophical stances and ideas. What disappointed me in this Karajan rendition may not disappoint you, and surely Hans Hotter and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in their absolute prime deserve hearing.
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