"A German Requiem" is in many respects both unusual and fascinating. The Dresden Kreuzchor too has fallen under the "spell" of this choral symphonic work, and Brahms's masterpiece has now become an annual feature on the traditional programme of the Kreuzkirche and its famous boys' choir.
The Requiem is one of the composer's most personal musical manifestations and is a work that at the time broke with convention. Brahms, who began working on his commemoration of the dead in his early years, did not compose a Requiem in the traditional sense. In an almost revolutionary step for the time, he eschewed the customary choice of using the Roman Catholic requiem mass, focussing instead on the human aspect. For him, solace for the bereaved, not lamentation for the dead, should be the central theme. By setting passages from the Bible that he had chosen himself he intended to offer consolation to the bereaved, and he succeeded in doing so to such an impressive extent that his work captivates audiences to this day.
Clara Schumann once described his Requiem as "a quite formidable work, which "embraces a human being in a way few others can", going on to describe it as "profound sobriety, combined with all the magic of poetry", which is perhaps a perfect motto for the work. Performing this Requiem "produces a soul-warming feeling," says Roderich Kreile, Musical Director of the Kreuzchor. "Fathoming the greatest works of human artistic endeavour always results in new revelations. So it is with Brahms's Requiem," is how he explains his continuing motivation. The Choirmaster shares this view with his "boys" who now count the work "among their favourite and in every sense most cherished works."
This album presents a live recording made in the Kreuzkirche in Dresden in November 2013. The boys' voices of the Kreuzchor, one of the most highly esteemed musical ensembles of its kind, are eminently suited to this modern Requiem and pervade it with a special, moving timbre. The choir is supported by the Vocal Concert Dresden, an ensemble well known and praised for its emotional appeal, and the Dresden Philharmonic.
Sibylla Rubens and Daniel Ochoa further enhance the recording with their excellent solo voices.