Ein Deutsches Requiem: Klemperer / Po Schwarzkopf F-dieskau +alto Rhapsody, Etc
The Piano Concerto in D minor which premiered in 1859 was universally detested, so Johannes Brahms dedicated his
attention to composing extended chamber works. Eventually he reworked an abandoned slow movement of the concerto
into a choral setting of the chorale “Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras.” This became a cantata, which in time was extended
to six movements with solos for soprano and baritone called ‘A German Requiem.’ The deaths of his mother and his mentor,
Robert Schumann, made Brahms contemplate mortality. The composer denied that the Requiem was specifically for
Schumann, but rather for “the whole of humanity.” ‘A German Requiem’ does not move audiences with fire and brimstone
but instead touches the heart with its serenity.
This recording lives up to its name. Soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau were at the
peak of their form when this recording was made and make memorable solo contributions. The Philharmonia Orchestra
and Chorus are under the direction of one of the century’s greatest conductors, Otto Klemperer. Klemperer paces things
superbly, with devastating impact in the magnificent sarabande of the second movement.
The Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53, is a composition for contralto, male chorus, and orchestra, a setting of verses from Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Harzreise im Winter.”
Choral and Vocal Items Information
Damrau / Schubertiade 2006 German Edition. It seems that no rung is too high on Diana Damrau‘s career ladder: after being made a Bavarian Kammersangerin... HMV&BOOKS online|2008/01/29