Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Ein Deutsches Requiem
Lucia Popp (sop)
Wolfgang Brendel (bar)
Prague Philharmonic Choir/Lubomir Matl
Czech PO/Giuseppe Sinopoli
rec 1982 ELOQUENCE 469 658-2 [76.22]

The Eloquence label are a force to be reckoned with. Performances of this calibre do not grow on trees. The Requiem predates the First Symphony being the work of a 35 year old composer immersed in the study of Schütz and living in the dark cloud of the loss of his mother and of his friend Robert Schumann. All concerned tap into the work's inward communion: closer to Brahms in Second Symphony mode than in Third.

This was a DG/Supraphon collaborative project recorded in a cosseted acoustic in Prague. Some may not take to the 'warm bath' of this venue. At £4.99 or 10USD this is well worth the experiment provided you do not take against the soft-focus reticence of the sound. The effect overall recalled my first live performance of the Requiem in Bristol Cathedral in the lonely Winter of 1971. The Bristol Choral Society and Bristol Sinfonia were, if I recall correctly, conducted by Sidney Sager.

The Sinopoli recording came in for some stick (in fact a battering) when first issued as part of a 3 LP box - a volume in DG's complete Brahms edition for 150th anniversary of the birth. I certainly agree that this is not a disc to track down if you are looking for glamorous impact. There is no lack of blossoming power (e.g. at 3.50 in 'Denn wir haben' which is touched with Schumann's fire, still hot, from the Fourth Symphony and the monumentalism of Handel) but hard edged definition is not in evidence.

The singing of the female section of the choir flowers generously at 7.55 in the heavenly 'Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras' and this is by no means isolated. The ladies also lend a florid passion at 9.20 in 'Herr, Lehre doch mich'. Brendel has a smouldering brand of a voice but the heat is dissipated somewhat by his vibrato when he is called on to sustain a note for any length of time. Lucia Popp's voice while exalted and expressive has a similar characteristic at that stage in her career.

As usual with Eloquence there are no notes or texts.

Rob Barnett

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