Maazel makes death feel pretty comfortable in a beautiful-so
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Despite his enormous technical abilities, Lorin Maazel cannot avoid the temptation to fiddle around with any work he conducts. In the German Requiem his idea is that death shouldn't bother Brhams so much; Maazel chills out the work's spiritual struggle into a comfortable contemplation. On the plus side the New Philharmonia and its excellent chorus play gorgeously, ahd Sony has caught them more beautifully than the sonics one hears on classic recordings from Karajan, Walter, and Klemperer.
Given how perverse Maazel can be, it must be counted as a plus that his greatest sin here is being tepid. Hermann Prey is a superb baritone soloist--as he was for Ansermet--and Mazzel lets him sing with deep conviction. Tempos are faster in general than we're used to, and for once that is a benefit: it's good to let a little sun shine into Brahms's shadowy Christiantiy. In the solo soprano part, Cotrubas blurs her German and shows a bit of vocal strain, but her tender spiritual feeling won me over completely.
In sum, if you want a German Requiem where the touch is always light and the tone sweet, Maazel certainly delivers.