German Requiem for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra, Op. 45
Johannes Brahms (1833 - 1897)
Conductor: Christian Thielemann
Orchestra: Dresden State Orchestra of Saxony
Choir: The Choir of the Saxon State Opera, Dresden
Soloists: Christine Schäfer (soprano), Wolfgang Schöne (baritone)
Venue: Semper Opera
Format: HD 1080-60i
Recording: 13–14 February 2003
Johannes Brahms’ ”A German Requiem”, written between 1859 and 1867 is a masterpiece moulded by the composer’s own experience of life and mourning. It stands as testimony to the profundity of the young Brahms and his belief in God the everlasting. Rather than writing a „Missa pro defunctis”, a requiem in which „the souls of the dead are prayed for” - he selected passages from both the Old and New Testaments which would comfort „the people who are suffering”. The first performance of the complete composition took place on 18 February 1869 in the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
Christian Thielemann isn’t keen on the word conductor, preferring to be known as capellmeister. He attaches great importance to craft and discipline: traditional values, possibly traditional German values. At any rate, Thielemann regards himself as upholding the tradition of the classical German conductors.
Christian Thielemann was born in Berlin in 1959. He studied the piano and also took viola lessons. After leaving school he joined the German Opera in Berlin as répétiteur, also acting as Karajan’s assistant. Following appointments in Gelsenkirchen, Karlsruhe and Hanover, in 1985 he was made first capellmeister at the German Opera on the Rhine in Düsseldorf. In 1987 he became Nuremberg’s director of music. Since the 1997/98 season he has been the director of music at the German Opera in Berlin.
Christine Schäfer – in contrast to many of her colleagues - is well-versed in all eras of music history. She studied at Berlin Academy of Music as well as under Aribert Reimann, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Sena Jurinac. She debuted as „Lulu” in 1991
at the New York Met, a role she also sang in Salzburg and Glyndebourne. Christine Schäfer regularly appears on the world’s great stages.
Wolfgang Schöne was born in northern Germany. He studied at the academies of music in Hanover and Hamburg. Initially mainly working as a concert and oratorio singer, his talent for the opera was soon discovered. In 1973 he joined the soloists’ ensemble
at Stuttgart State Theatre, where in 1978 he was appointed Kammersänger. He is nowadays one of the most sought-after singers in his field. The Dresden Opera Choir was founded by royal decree on 8. October 1817. Thanks to the outstanding figures who moulded its artistic progress without losing sight of its historical development, it evolved into a first-rate ensemble much in demand. For nearly two centuries the attributes which distinguish the Choir of the Saxon State Opera, Dresden – homogenous sonority, tonal elegance and cultivated piano singing – have been continuously developed and maintained. These days the choir is regarded as one of the best opera choirs in Germany.