Mozart Requiem

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by dunkyboy, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy

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    Can anyone recommend a good version of this on CD? I have two versions, a 1962 Karajan/BPO version on DG, and a newly purchased 1986 Telarc version with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. I've always liked the Requiem a lot, but the Karajan version is rather poorly recorded. I bought the Telarc version hoping for better sound quality but when I listened to it last night I was seriously disappointed by both sound quality and the performance - sound is very muffled and indistinct (even the soloists), sounding like it was recorded in a gigantic padded room with the microphone on the opposite end of the room (maybe wrapped in a pillow for good measure...), and the performance is just completely lifeless and uninspiring. By comparison the Karajan performance is absolutely spellbinding and incredibly passionate and involving - but it's let down by some serious dodginess in the sound quality department. Not sure what it is, but it just sounds bad for the most part (though it seems to do a good job reproducing the acoustic of the performance, and occasionally the soloists' voices sound clear enough, so I'm really not sure what the problem was).

    It may be a tall order, but I'd like to find a version that has similar passion and energy to the Karajan performance but with top notch sound quality. Can anyone recommend a release for me to look into?

    Cheers,

    Dunc

    P.S. - What's up with the Telarc disc?? Why does it sound so poor? I thought Telarc were meant to be renouned for their high sound quality?
     
    dunkyboy, Feb 7, 2004
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  2. dunkyboy

    cookiemonster

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    I have the 1962 Karajan/BPO as well. The other version i have is a 2000 Helmuth Rilling/ Gachinger Kantorei Stuttgart, Bach-Collegium Stuttgart on Sony Classical, which is of course a DDD recording, and the sound quality is very good. It also has 'Exultate, jubilate'/Zukerman/Blegan tagged on for good measure, which i particularly like. The Karajan i haven't listened to for ages, and i mainly play the Rilling one, as i also have a CDR of it in the car, and enjoy listening to it. I'll have to do a comparison and find out how the performances compare.

    I've looked in Gramophone, but there doesn't appear to be any clear winners in the recordings which they review, although the Neville Mariner/St Martins in the Field seems to shade it in their opinion, and this is also modern recording (1990),

    'This one under Sir Neville Mariner is among the noblest and most powerful of them all; an unusually thoughtful and careful reading. The first thing that strikes you is the passionate nature of the choral singing.......'

    Sorry not much help. I only responded as i enjoy the Requiem as well, and i'll make a point of checking out the Karajan version again.
     
    cookiemonster, Feb 7, 2004
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  3. dunkyboy

    cookiemonster

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    I've just found another Requiem lurking on the shelves! I got this one courtesy of GrahamN. Its Peter Schreier/Rundfunkchor Leipzig/Staatskapelle Dresden (Philips,1983). Its a Gramophone Award Winner. I've obviously been buying too many cd's and passed over this by mistake (sorry Graham).

    But i'm off to listen to it right now while the missus watches CSI.

    Also just had a quick ogle at the above two cd's i mentioned, and just by looking at the covers it is noticeable that the Karajan is considerably slower than the Rilling i mentioned.

    Hopefully i can give you something more useful once i've had a listen.

    cheers
     
    cookiemonster, Feb 7, 2004
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  4. dunkyboy

    cookiemonster

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    Right, well in my laymans opinion i'd put them in the following order:

    Rilling
    Schreier
    Karajan

    TBH i enjoy (on this admittedly short appraisal in a 'head-to-head') both the Rilling and Schreier, but for different reasons, the when taken as a whole they are both pleasurable. The karajan however is definitely not up my alley (which is probably why i have never gone back to it). Firstly, the sound quality is very poor. The recording is flat and hissy. But besides that, i find the performance a bit too slow and deliberate - 'indulgent' if you like. Now i'm no scholar, so i don't know if its supposed to be 'good' or not, but TBH Karajan is like watching paint dry compared to the other two.

    Schreier and Rilling are both of excellent sound quality. The Rilling is recorded at a quite noticeable higher volume (which makes it tricky when assessing them, as it immediately jumps out, and its hard to match the dbl's, anyway...). The balance of the Schreier is excellent and the fusing of both the orchestration and choral elements just seems 'right'. The rilling however seems to be dominated more by the choral side of things. This could also be a reflection however of the way in which Schreier keeps his motley crew together and it is definitely a plus over the Rilling.

    The deciding factor though, however much i wanted to like the Schreier - (as TBH, if this makes sense, it probably is the 'better', with many elements being preferable to the Rilling, and i like it a lot) was that the Rilling just has more 'balls' (you won't see that in Gramophone). Even the soloists which are equally pleasent on both discs, just seem to give it more gusto on the Rilling, and just at the right moments.

    The Karajan is a lot slower than the other two, with the Schreier actually being a bit pacier still than the Rilling.

    I'm bearing in mind though, that i must have listened to the Rilling about 50 times, so familiarity is probably a minor factor too.

    Also remember that the Rilling comes with Exultate, Jubilate tagged on for good measure as a cool down treat.

    So there you go, completely unhelpful and unintelligible, but even in my unknowledgeable capacity, i reckon you owe it to yourself to try another version, as personally i think you will find better than the Karajan. (correct me when you find that Karajan still rules, as i would be happy to sample some others as well :) )

    I'm off to play Rillings Kyrie now before Match of the Day.

    cheers
     
    cookiemonster, Feb 7, 2004
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  5. dunkyboy

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I have a very different one, by La Capelle Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations under Jordi Savall. I picked it up at a sale for 10 Swissies (about £4.50), expecting a competent performance, as is always the case from these performers, but I'm usually not very keen on small forces in big choral works. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find it really quite good. I haven't heard the others mentioned above, so I can offer no comparison.

    P.S. Thanks for the hint on Rilling, Cookie. He can be great on some things and fairly ordinary (and sometimes a bit overblown) on others. His version of the Bach "Magnificat" shows off both sides of his character. On the other hand, his feeling for the Bach cantatas is pretty well unerring (to me - I know Eisenach would never agree with me). I'm now only 40-odd cantatas short of a full Rilling set, courtesy of the cheap bookshop in Zürich station selling them at 6 Swissies a pop.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2004
    tones, Feb 8, 2004
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  6. dunkyboy

    cookiemonster

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    cookiemonster, Feb 8, 2004
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  7. dunkyboy

    PeteH Natural Blue

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    IME "classic" choral recordings from about the 50's-70's are more likely than not to have dreadful choral singing which drags through agonisingly under-pitch the whole way through the performance, for example both the Deutsche Grammophon and EMI Karajan recordings of the Brahms German Requiem and the mysteriously highly-rated Klemperer version of the same work (the one currently on 'Great Recordings of the Century' :rolleyes: ). I haven't heard the Karajan Mozart you're talking about but based on past experience I'd be inclined to avoid it.

    There's a Hickox / London Sinfonia version on Virgin which is really well-sung, although the chorus is maybe a little forwardly recorded (again better than the dirge-like "classic" versions with a pale washed-out chorus who sound like they're somewhere in the next town :D ) - the Eliot Gardiner on Philips is beautifully done as always, and the recent Abbado on DG (I think) is terrific too. All three of these are very clearly recorded too.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2004
    PeteH, Feb 8, 2004
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  8. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy

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    Thanks for all the feedback. I've just checked and the Shaw performance is indeed a lot shorter than the Karajan one for the most part (though some parts are actually shorter in the Karajan one), so maybe it is a particularly drawn-out, even "indulgent" rendition after all. I wouldn't know, as these are the only two recordings I own of the Requiem, and I've not listened to any other versions, so these (and the Karajan in particular) are my references.

    I must say, it may be indulgent, but I do love the Karajan performance. :) I'm very much open-minded, though, and I look forward to popping down to the local classical music shop and seeing what they have - and I'll definitely keep an eye out for the suggestions made so far.

    Cheers again,

    Dunc
     
    dunkyboy, Feb 8, 2004
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  9. dunkyboy

    HenryT

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    I've not heard the Karajan recording, nor have I heard any other recordings apart from the one I own either!

    I have the Mariner / ASMF recording on Philips. It just happened by accident to be the first one I came across in the record shop when I was looking for my first complete recording of the work, didn't consult Grammophone, Penguin or any of the other usual resources.

    "Noble" seems an apt description as a summary of the performance. I've only ever heard this piece performed live onece so far, so that is my only other reference to date. Unfortunately I can't rememeber who the choir, soloists or conductor were, but it was the ECO at the Barbican in London a few years ago (1998?). The live performance was a bit more firery than the Mariner, with more twist and turns. I found myself feeling almost exhausted at the end of the concert, feeling aggrieved rather than a sense of calm through cathartic grief that Mariner leaves you with.
     
    HenryT, Feb 8, 2004
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  10. dunkyboy

    tones compulsive cantater

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    "Messiah" or "Der Messias" its Geman equivalent, modified by Mozart? If the latter, be prepared for some surprises. Wolfie discarded all the continuo parts (then out of fashion) and rewrote new orchestral parts. His biggest headache? "The trumpet shall sound", because the trumpets and trumpeters to play it no longer existed. At one point, he considered dumping it completely, but eventually went along with horns. Better than nothing, I guess, but nothing matches the soaring, silvery clarino trumpet in the original.
     
    tones, Feb 8, 2004
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