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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

on 5 June 2016
This performance is undoubtedly very good but I was terribly disappointed with the quality of sound. In the choral sections ( which constitute a major part) one heard an extraneous noise , like paper or cloth being torn, to which no other reviewers seem to have referred. This is a phenomenon which seems to affect pretty well all choral CDs although the Simon Rattle version of the Brahms is not bad in this regard.At first
I assumed that my equipment was faulty but I have played choral CDs on a wide selection of good quality installations and heard the sound on every one. While this is a general observation about choral recordings, I mention it in relation to this particular disc as it seemed especially difficult.
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on 1 February 2014
This is a dazzling and exciting performance of a well known and loved work. This recording is like hearing it for the first time and loving it even more! I would recommend this to anyone.
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on 15 November 2012
Some people will tell you that Eliot Gardiner, wedded to notions of appropriate period practice, has produced an unemotional and dry performance of Brahms' problematic choral masterpiece. This is not true. Of all the great works in the choral repertoire, this is the one that most often grinds to a gloomy end in recording. The catalogue is littered with performances by "great" conductors that I would cross the road to avoid. I will not name names but will draw a decent veil over the corpses. Paradoxically, Gardiner seems to have tried to perform the work as if it had been written last week. He has prepared it as if a hundred years of increasingly constipated reverence for "the great work" had never happened. The result is a performance that is fresh, moving and yet light on its feet. I know this work well and have sung it several times as a member of the chorus but this performance still took me by surprise, in the best sense. All the performers, including both soloists, are characterful and accomplished. The whole work feels unified and sombre, yet uplifting. Lots of beautiful harmonic and rhythmic details, lost in the sludge of turgid tradition in most other performances, sparkle and charm. The dramatic passages (the Requiem does contain them) are quite thrilling and throw the darker, more meditative, moments into relief. I really loved it and it's astonishingly good value in its new incarnation as an "Original".
There is one crucial detail that has been fluffed in the production of the disc. It has a picture of the much-older bearded Brahms on the cover. It would have been particularly appropriate to have the wonderful 1866 photograph of Brahms taken at the time he was composing the Requiem. Not a whisker on that smooth, intelligent face.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 June 2014
In his notes to his set of Brahms symphonies (on Telarc), Sir Charles Mackerras makes a strong case that Brahms preferred the use of modest-sized forces in conducting his own work, and to my ear, Mackerras's performance of the Brahms First, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, is marvellously lucid and un-muddy. I wonder if John Eliot Gardiner doesn't share a similar view. The program booklet that accompanies this recording of the German Requiem isn't specific about the size of the orchestra or chorus, but the recording has the clarity and energy of Mackerras's recordings. It is easily the best studio-recorded account I have heard. First of all, the choral lines and diction are unusually clear, so that the harmony isn't blurred, and tonally the chorus is beautifully recorded too. And there's no lack of weight -- the forte passages come across with great force. Even more striking, though, from an interpretive standpoint, is the fact that the inner drama of the choral sections is much more alive. The choral singing is expressive and not just impressive, and those choruses that end with old-fashioned counterpoint do so with tremendous energy and freshness.

Also, I was very impressed by the soloists. Charlotte Margiono can sound a little glassy at the top, but her command of pitch and line are very secure; Rodney Gilfrey is perhaps even better. Not only does he sing beautifully, but his responsiveness to the text is exemplary. This is singing in the Fischer-Dieskau class, though if anything he sounds even more easy than F-D at the top end of his range. The orchestra is responsive to Gardiner's historically-informed style and both the heavier- and lighter-scored passages come across with energy and warmth. All in all, it's just a great account.

For "traditionalists" who might find Gardiner too austere (though he seems plenty warm to me), there's Kubelik's great live-performance account of Audite, also warmly played and with fine solo singing -- but give Gardiner a try. I think Brahms would have approved.
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on 5 January 2015
I bought this set because I felt sure that Klemperer's rather turgid recording was a dis-service to Brahms and had read a review that proclaimed Eliot Gardiner's version was like a spring clean. Result: disappointment. Perhaps it was meant to be turgid!
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on 17 February 2015
Great to hear the original. Great service
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