Play this to Mrs Merkel next time she gets stroppy

Play this to Mrs Merkel next time she gets stroppy


norman lebrecht

November 24, 2017

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

This has to be the least expected record of the year – a performance of Ein deutsches Requiem in the original English, at least in the texts of the original English Bible….

Read on here.



  • Paul Joschak says:

    Err…. Isn’t that a photo of Kings College Cambridge choir, and not Kings College London?

  • Halldor says:

    And why not? There are German language recordings of Handel’s “Messiah” and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Haydn actually composed The Creation bilingually. See also French and Italian versions of Wagner’s Ring. My old chapel choir used to sing movements of the German Requiem fairly regularly in English, as anthems. It’s nothing to do with nationalism – merely a reflection of an era in which it was simply taken as read that people wanted to hear major works performed in a language that they understood.

    Which is arguably a healthy impulse: grounded in a belief (discarded by too many musicians today) that the words matter, and that words and music together add up to more than the sum of their parts.

  • Thomasina says:

    This piece is my favorite among my favorites. But in English and only the pianos accompaniment? Without the orchestra, for me, there is no shudder at the biginning of Denn alles Fleisch and no ecstasy of Hölle, wo ist dein Sieg?. I’m the last person who needs this album.

    • Edoardo says:

      I have a recording, sung in Italian with Carteri and Christoff, Bruno Walter conducting the Choir and Orchestra of the Italian Radio TV in Rome

      “Ben è vero che afflitti beati sono: ché conforto avranno.
      Quei che in pianto semineranno raccoglieranno nel riso”

      It is quite different from the Italian translation of the corresponding text in the Bible (which way more beautiful), with words added and a pretty creative use of verbs to made the text fit the rhythm of the music.

      Italian doesn’t really add much…

      • Thomasina says:

        In Italian, it doesn’t seem to be so bad (by google translate). l think that with Walter there was a recording in English. So the English version itself isn’t new…

        • Edoardo says:

          It is not wrong Italian, it is just not beautiful 🙂

          And the audio of the recording is rather bad, as most of Italian Radio recordings of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

  • mr oakmountain says:

    I welcome any recording where gifted artists sing something in their native tongue, like Wunderlich’s German language recordings of Italian opera. Just imagine what we could have had as well: Korngold or Wagner’s “Winterstürme” sung by Pavarotti, …


    How does this recording make a statement against Merkel?
    Not happy with Brahms’ deeply felt work used for a cheap remark like that …

    • John Borstlap says:

      Brahms himself had a bust of Bismarck at a very prominent place in his living room, adorned with a wreath, and he was a keen follower of politics in the newspapers and cultivated all kinds of opinions about his fatherland.

      • sue says:

        That’s true, although there’s virtually no mention of Brahms’s politics in Swafford’s otherwise excellent biography.

    • fred smith says:

      ..agree with you on Merkel.
      Must the Arts too be abused for anti-German drum-beating?