Kempe/BPO: Brahms German Requiem: Electrola WALP 505/506 (ED1)
Box VG / LPs EX / German pressing
This outstanding and rare 2LP cloth box set from Electrola (WALP 505/506S E 90003 / 04S, German pressing, first red/gold 'LANG331/3SPIEL' Electrola label, original stitched inner jackets and booklet included, mono – no stereo edition exists) features Rudolf Kempe's transcendent presentation of Brahms's A German Requiem (Ein Deutsches Requiem) Op. 45, taped in the rich acoustics of Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin-Dahiem in June 1955 with the Choir of St. Hedwig's Cathedral (Choral Director: Karl Forster) and soloists Elisabeth Grümmer (Soprano) and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone) – one of the landmark recordings of this work. Note: This performance occupies 3 sides; the 4th side is blank.
Wrote the esteemed critic Rob Cowan in his September 1994 review for The Gramophone: " Although there are at least half a dozen historic recordings of this glorious work that boast a more striking profile than Kempe's, none is more profoundly convincing. The opening "Selig sind, die da Leid tragen" is a perfect place to sample: the tempo is ideal, the choral singing warmly inflected, the blend of voices and orchestral timbres, luminous. Perhaps "Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras" lacks the imposing tread of, say, Klemperer (EMI, 6/87), but as the movement progresses, Kempe's mastery of light and shade makes musical common sense of all that preceded it. Both soloists are superb, Elisabeth Grammer offering quite the loveliest "Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit" I've heard in years, pure in tone yet deeply expressive. Fischer-Dieskau, too, weighs his words carefully, declaiming "Herr, lehre doch mich" with a compassionate inwardness, his voice warm and rounded. But the performance is at its greatest in the work's second half, namely Nos. 4-7, with a stirring "Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Staff" and a beautifully drawn, consolatory "Seilig sind die Toten" to close. This is not the sort of performance to 'dip into', excerpting this or that passage in search of some novel interpretative quirk. Kempe's is essentially a deeply felt overview, and his achievement is in the way he makes the Deutsches Requiem cumulatively satisfying.
"The success of this venture is greatly aided by Fritz Ganss's initial production. The location is the famous Jesus-Christus Kirche, Berlin and although only in mono, the sound-quality is both dynamic and transparent. True, there are odd patches of congestion, but as mid-1950s choral recordings go, this one is pretty exceptional. A superb Deutsches Requiem, then."
Included is a glossy full-size, heavy paper 4-page booklet with portraits of the composer, as well as of the artists, notes on the music, and full vocal tests (all in German only).
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the box is VERY GOOD. There is some edgewear, slight bumping at corners, minor shelfwear, and mild discoloration. However, there are no corner breaks, seamsplits, bends, or owners' markings, and the box remains extremely solid and presentation worthy – overall, a very good collector's copy.
The condition of the two original stitched inner jackets is VERY GOOD throughout. There is minor edgewear and creasing, as well as some discoloration. However, there are no seamsplits, bends, or owners' markings and both jackets remain solid and presentation worthy.
The condition of the heavy paper, 4-page booklet is EXCELLENT – there are no real flaws to speak of – a fine copy.
The condition of the 2 LPs is EXCELLENT throughout. The surfaces are not always CD silent, but in general the playback is superb – overall, fine collector's copies.