Sony Classical announces the release of conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, op.45 available Tuesday, February 1, 2011. As with many Harnoncourt releases, he shows the world just how “new” old music can sound. In recent years, Harnoncourt has been giving audiences a fresh view on some of the masterpieces of Romantic and late-Romantic music.
This is not the first time that Harnoncourt tackled Brahms’s “German Requiem,” but it is the first time that he explored the composer’s ideas on how it should be performed. Brahms originally conceived the piece to be performed by smaller groups. However, as the Requiem gained popularity (after the first concert performance in 1869), it was mostly performed by large choirs and orchestras. Brahms also made an intimate version to be performed by a few voices and two pianos. A preview of this work took place in Dessau in 1868 with a choir of twelve voices and one piano.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt studied all these aspects of the Requiem in depth, and his sensitive and thoughtful interpretation demonstrates a new approach to the work. Technically and artistically, the new recording is a replica of the concert he gave in Vienna in December 2007, which received rave reviews.
The recording features internationally renowned baritone Thomas Hampson and soprano Genia Kühmeier as soloists. Harnoncourt conducts the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, with which his connections go back more than thirty years, and the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra that knows the conductor’s interpretative ideas well.
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