Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Ein deutsches Requiem
PERFORMER: Bonney, Terfel; Swedish Radio Choir, Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado (Musikverein,Vienna, 1997)
Many DVDs come with ‘added-value’ elements, but here’s an instance of one sold purely and simply for the work it contains, and it’s an instance where less equals more. When your location is the singularly telegenic Musikverein in Vienna, there can be no worries over the beauty of the pictures, no temptation to stray outside with visions of open fields or towering cathedrals. And, given a sensitive production, which this is, it helps to listen if one can also see. Maybe soon the DVD format’s provision for offering multiple camera angles will more often and more fully be explored, so that too much focusing on the tune-player can be avoided. Abbado’s is a grand, solemn, yet life-enhancing vision of the piece. This is a performance of huge nobility, a head-on confrontation with mortality. Barbara Bonney (mis- spelt as ‘Bonny’ on the back cover) is a radiant soprano soloist and Bryn Terfel his usual huge, brown-voiced self, as imposing as the writing demands. The choirs sing well, but listening in standard stereo rather than surround sound it seems recorded rather distantly. That, however, only highlights the wonderfully refined playing of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, though their ensemble is not always absolutely precise. Stephen Pettitt