Brahms: An English Requiem

Since its London premiere in 1871, Brahms’s German Requiem has enjoyed immense popularity in the UK, in both its orchestral and chamber versions. But the setting we know today is not the one that nineteenth-century British audiences knew and loved. The work was rarely performed here in German; rather, it was almost always sung in an English translation, and was even known by some as An English Requiem.

In its sixth Delphian recording, The Choir of King’s College London revives the nineteenth-century English setting in which Brahms’s masterpiece established itself as a favourite among its earliest British audiences. Under its new director Joseph Fort, the choir is joined by pianists James Baillieu and Richard Uttley, and soloists Mary Bevan and Marcus Farnsworth.

"Their ‘How lovely is thy dwelling-place’ has a nimble, self-effacing sweetness…Bevan consoles with richly penetrating ardour…Pianists Richard Uttley and James Baillieu glide ably through, generating impressive momentum in ‘Behold, all flesh is as the grass’…It’s modest, unshowy. Brahms without grandeur, Brahms translated."

"The Choir of King’s College London sing with such relaxed assuredness that one almost feels they have been reunited with an old friend. The intonation on ‘Behold, all flesh is as the grass’ and the climactic ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord’ is English choral singing at its best, and Joseph Fort keeps the pace steady and neither hurried nor mournfully drawn-out. A model recovery of a much-loved piece in its original costume."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

""This recording uses similar forces to those who gathered in a fashionable Wimpole Street drawing room in 1871, but revises the piano part to more closely reflect the textures of Brahms’s orchestration. This produces an intimate, highly charged chamber performance, brightly"

"This lovingly-crafted debut album from the English tenor is easy listening in the most positive sense – though most of the material here was new to me, several of the songs wormed their way into my consciousness after a single hearing, and Lyon approaches them from a standpoint of sound historical awareness spiced with the odd audacious anachronism. Recommended for casual listeners and early music aficionados alike."

"A well-paced account that achieves a calm and noble strength of expression in the symmetrical outer pillars."

"plenty of excitement with the plunging pianos bringing out the string figurations to massive effect."

Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue(s): Trinity School, Croydon
Recording dates: 7-9 April 2017
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 7
Total playing time: 65:18
First UK release date: November 17, 2017
Album ID: DCD34195

More by The Choir of King's College, London on Delphian