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Hansjörg Albrecht & Konrad Jarnot & Münchener Bach-Chor & Münchner Rundfunkorchester Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem OC 787 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 787
Barcode4260034867871
labelOehmsClassics
Release date11/01/2011
salesrank3423
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Brahms, Johannes

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      Johannes Brahms

      A German Requiem op. 45
      Ruth Ziesak, soprano · Konrad Jarnot, baritone
      Friedemann Winklhofer, organ
      Münchener Bach-Chor · Münchner Rundfunkorchester
      Hansjörg Albrecht, conductor


      This live recording of Brahms’ „German Requiem“ gains even more intensity through the occasion of its performance: on September 25, 2010, the Dominik- Brunner-Foundation organized a memorial concert for Dominik Brunner, the man who paid with his life for his courageous defense of four children from attackers in a Munich commuter train one year before.
      The Munich Radio Orchestra, Münchener Bach- Chor as well as first class soloists performed Brahms’ famous Requiem, which is based on texts from Luther’s Bible, under the direction of Hansjörg Albrecht.
      Brahms’ work is characterized by the fact that, in contrast to the Catholic requiem, its texts do not center around the dead, but on the survivors, or one could say, on man in general. The bible verses that Brahms chose concentrate both on consolation as well as the awareness that death is an inevitable fact of life for every human. The work clearly reflects Brahms’ own beliefs, fears and experiences and is thus a deeply human and personal avowal in word and sound.

      Johannes Brahms (1833–1897)
      A German Requiem

      To Words of the Holy Scriptures
      for soloists, choir and orchestra op. 45

      At the age of twenty-eight, Johannes Brahms wrote on the back of his fourth Magelone Romances opus 33 texts for an elegiac cantata which he had compiled himself from the Old Testament, New Testament and Apocrypha. Solely in the German language. The idea of composing elegiac music probably originated five years earlier when Brahms’ greatest friend and supporter Robert Schumann died, following his attempted suicide and increasingly dark spiritual and mental deterioration. Brahms’ mother died in February 1865. In April of the same year he sent several sheets of music to Schumann’s widow Clara including the choral section of the fourth movement from a kind of German Requiem, as Brahms described it, with which I’m toying at the moment. Clara soon encouraged him in this undertaking. She also preferred the beautiful German words to those in Latin. A rediscovery gave Brahms the impetus to complete this project: whilst helping his father to move house at the beginning of January, Brahms found the sheet of music on which he had written the texts. By summer 1866 he had completed six of the seven movements. The work premiered on December 1 of the following year in the Großer Redoutensaal in Vienna; it contained, however, only three of the six movements. The concert promoter didn’t want to expose the public to any more than this because Brahms, who was born in Hamburg and had only recently moved to Vienna, was as yet known only as a conductor of Baroque music arrangements. Because the work was dedicated to Franz Schubert, the second half of the program was fittingly made up of eight pieces from Schubert’s Rosamunde.

      Movements I to IV, VI and VII were not performed together until April 28, 1868, at a performance in Bremen Cathedral conducted by the composer. Brahms completed the missing fifth movement in May; the third premiere then took place on February 18, 1869 in a soldout Leipzig Gewandhaus, providing Brahms with sensational success and his breakthrough as a composer. Philipp Spitta wrote to Brahms saying that it was impossible to deal with the work in a mere review. If I want to give someone an appreciation of the work, I think I need to write an entire book straight away. Instead of a book, here are just a few thoughts on what still makes this work an outstanding masterpiece in Western music history.

      The Brahms Requiem cannot be classified in the usual categories. Even the title is confusing. Why a German Requiem, although no others had previously been written? What is meant by German? Written in the German language or Germanic in style, following German traditions? Why “Requiem”, although this Protestant composer from Hamburg had not used the prescribed text formulas of the Roman Catholic Church for the Requiem mass? The work’s structure clearly showed that it was not a cantata either. Even the work’s instrumentation, at times scaled back to chamber music dimensions and other times swelling towards a choral and orchestral opulence, defies categorization. This piece has a special status within Brahms’ entire opus; it is unrivalled and comparable to no other composition.

      But above all it is the approach of the composer himself, which gives this work its uniqueness. He does not allow the bereaved to implore, may God guide the souls of the dead into the hereafter and have mercy upon them. The sixteen Bible texts carefully selected by Brahms deal with mourning, but also hope; with the realization of man’s nothingness, but also longing and faith. Rather than intercessions for the dead, the work provides comfort for the bereaved. Giving consolation is the work’s central concern, in both words and music. This is already made clear at the work’s opening, taken from the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. At the end of the fifth movement, the last to be composed, the words of the Prophet Isaiah give strength: As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you. Even one of the first reviews praised the work’s warmth. The Brahms Requiem captivates us because it does not repeat the old familiar formulas that, like all worn-out ideas, would simply slide off the listener. Brahms reveals here his own personal drama of faith, lending authenticity to the Requiem. He stands by the doubts, the difficulty to blindly believe the promises of the church, of his denomination, and he stands by his fear of death. This is why the work still speaks to us so clearly today. The will to have faith, the will to peacefully let go of life ist essential; this ist what Brahms teaches us. Assurance of salvation is not required; what is required is to be searching for salvation and learning to let go.

      Lord, make me to know
      mine End,
      and the measure of my days, what it is:
      that I may know how frail I am.

      Whoever perceives this, for them the transience of earthly life will lose all its terror.

      For all flesh is as grass.

      Grave solemnity combined with all the magic of poetry, wrote Clara Schumann to Brahms in 1867 regarding his Requiem, has a completely wonderful effect, upsetting and soothing.

      Unlike Wagner, Brahms did not aim to regenerate humanity from within. He did not want to convince us of one solitary God or the one true path. He only wanted to comfort us with that which he himself believed: the redeeming power of love.



      Dr. Eva Gesine Baur
      Translation: tolingo translations

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
        • 1.I. Selig sind, die da leid tragen10:42
        • 2.II. Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras15:04
        • 3.III. Herr, lehre doch mich09:26
        • 4.IV. Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen04:53
        • 5.V. ihr habt nun Traurigkeit06:55
        • 6.VI. Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt11:42
        • 7.VII. Selig sind die Toten09:48
      • Total:01:08:30