Recommended Listening: Brahms Requiem

Here are some recommended recordings related to Brahms' German Requiem, curated and with comments by our Artistic Director Andrew Lewis.


A German Requiem (London version)


1.  Accentus, dir. Laurence Equilbey | Sung in German


Laurence Equilbey and Accentus have made a series of recordings that are exquisite and powerful. This recording dates from 2013.


2.   Choir King’s College, Cambridge, dir. Stephen Cleobury, Hanno Müller-Brachmann, bass | Sung in German


Very different take from the Equilbey recording, this one features the boy trebles of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. The 2nd movement, particularly, has a surprising amount of power, verging on the vicious, while the 4th movement is sweet and tender.




Related music by Heinrich Schütz

Brahms had a fascination with Schütz and was one of the first conductors to revive his works for public performance. As music director of the Wiener Singakadamie he programmed a concert including works by J.S. Bach and Schütz. The Singakadamie have put their programming archives online. You can view Brahms’ program, from the 1863-64 season, here:


1.  Selig sind die Toten, SWV 391


Both Brahms and Robert Schumann almost certainly knew of Heinrich Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien of 1636, a kind of German Protestant funeral mass coming from the tradition of Begräbnisfeiermusik, music for the burial service. Indeed, Brahms chose to set for the closing of his Requiem the same text that Schütz set, “Selig sind die Toten,” -- “Blessed are the dead.”


2.  Das ist je gewisslich wahr, SWV 277


This was on Brahms’ 1863 program he conducted with the Wiener Singakademie.



3.  Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, SWV 29

Westminster Cathedral Choir, dir. Martin Baker


It is uncertain whether Brahms was familiar with this work but nevertheless quite interesting to compare the two settings.