BRAHMS: Ein deutsches Requiem – Maria Stader, sop./ Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, bar./ Choir of ORTF and Orch. National de Paris/ Paul Kletzki – Archipel

by | Jan 9, 2012 | Classical Reissue Reviews

BRAHMS: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45 – Maria Stader, soprano/ Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone/ Choir of the ORTF and Orchestre National de Paris/ Paul Kletzki – Archipel ARPCD 0535, 77:29 [Distr. by Qualiton] ****:
A lovely addition to the “Archipel Desert Island Collection,” this broadcast performance of the Brahms Requiem (6 June 1956) assembles two fine vocalists along with a French chorale and the National Orchestra of Paris under Polish conductor Paul Kletzki (1900-1973), a much under-rated master of orchestral discipline. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (b. 1925) would make his mark in this work under Klemperer for their work (with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf) for EMI. Here, in his younger incarnation 1956, he shares the Brahms litanies to mortality with Hungarian born Maria Stader (1911-1999) who exhibits perfect voice for “Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit.”
American conductor David Randolph used to confide about the Brahms Requiem, “I play it more slowly the older I get, and each slowing down seems to me the right tempo.” Kletzki’s performance, much like that of Fritz Lehmann’s commercial recording for DGG, basks in slow and expansive expression of the Brahms secular  liturgy. Yet the reading does not drag, and the brisk sections, say after the lugubrious strains of “Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras” have been exclaimed forte, move with surprising vitality. So, too, the note of triumph in section six, which query, “Death, where is thy Sting?” hustles with expressive power and glory in the human capacity for overcoming.
The ripening voice of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, always sensitive to the text, offers that pinched skepticism that plagues “Herr, lehre doch mich” but acquires a thrilling confidence in “Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt.” As for Maria Stader, despite her diminutive physical stature, she possessed a thrilling clear diction and flexiblere sonance equal to anyone in the game, and her tessitura flares out bright and exultant.
No trace of “Gallic” inflection invades the orchestral timbre and tone of the Orchestre National de Paris, alternately whipped and molded into glowing, valedictory strains for this massive score, whose last movement casts an eternal sigh of gratitude to the survivors, those who must carry on “in the midst of life.”  Highly recommended!
—Gary Lemco

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