Philippe Herreweghe, Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45

Philippe Herreweghe
A tough, muscular Requiem that will leave you both exhilarated and reassured.

I have to admit to loving Brahms'German Requiem more than any other choral work. Its tough, muscular writing fuses with the words in a way that leaves me both exhilarated and reassured. Brahms'use of orchestral color was rarely so imaginative as in this unique work in his output — to open a piece with violas instead of violins is but one example of his genius. The choral numbers which carry the work are staggering — especially so in this wonderfully transparent, but by no means lightweight, performance. Gerald Finley, one of today's most characterful baritones, is superb, riding the surging choral and orchestral lines with ease, injecting real passion into his singing. Christiane Oelze, a light-voiced, sweet soprano dispenses the balm of consolation in her single solo. Conductor Philippe Herreweghe martials his musicians with a terrific grip on the contrapuntal writing, revealing the wisdom he's absorbed from his magnificent Bach performances.