- Ein deutsches Requiem (German Requiem), for soprano, baritone, chorus & orchestra, Op. 45
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's playing is a bit turgid, and Telarc's 1983 digital sound is more than a bit thick. Soprano Arleen Augér's singing is wonderful, but baritone Richard Stilwell's singing is merely adequate. The Atlanta Chorus' singing is, of course, superlative, but except for a few sublime moments, Robert Shaw's interpretation is sentimental. Still, when it's sublime, this performance of Brahms' "Ein deutsches Requiem" is transcendent, and transcendent is what you're looking for in "Ein deutsches Requiem." Shaw's "Selig sind, die da Leid tragen" is bloated with anguish. His "Denn alles Fleisch" is swollen with sorrow. His "Herr, lehre doch mich" is prostrate with pain. His "Denn wir haben hie" is so heavy that it nearly stops, collapses, and dies. But Shaw's and Augér's "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen" is so beatific that it consoles all agony. And the closing pages of "Selig sind die Toten" are so radiant that they redeem all grief. There are certainly other performances of Brahms' "Requiem" to hear first -- Klemperer's eschatological reading with the Philharmonia, Kempe's ontological account with the Berlin Philharmonic, and Karajan's megalithic interpretation with the Berlin come to mind -- but after those, Shaw's performance still merits a listening if only for its moments of transcendence.