Brahms German Requiem, Op. 45
Carolyn Sampson (soprano), André Morsch (baritone); Cappella Amsterdam; Orchestra of the 18th Century/Daniel Reuss
Glossa GCD 921126 70:26 mins
The German Requiem – Brahms’s largest and perhaps most moving composition – inhabits a dark soundworld. Its opening movement does without violins altogether, and they appear muted at the start of the next movement. The score features two soloists, but their contribution is brief, both finely sung on this new recording by Carolyn Sampson and André Morsch.
The booklet makes much of the fact that the performance follows the metronome markings noted down by Carl Reinthaler, who was Brahms’s assistant at the work’s first complete performance, but the resulting tempos are not markedly different from those found in more traditional performances. The booklet also contains a photo of the ‘live’ recording in progress on which it’s hard to make out more microphones than a single pair on a high stand next to the conductor, Daniel Reuss. That’s all very admirable in theory, but in practice it results in a sound balance that’s much too distant. The all-important chorus, placed at the back, is seriously lacking in presence throughout, and orchestral detail is also sorely lacking. The murkiness of the overall effect makes it impossible to recommend this recording.