New online: Brahms Deutsches Requiem, the heavy-metal edition

New online: Brahms Deutsches Requiem, the heavy-metal edition


norman lebrecht

March 10, 2021

Actually, it works rather well.

Book it for the BBC Proms.



  • John Borstlap says:

    Maybe democracy and freedom was not such a good idea?

  • Leo Doherty says:

    Brilliant. Brahms would love it.

  • José Bergher says:

    Even dog scheisse looks better than what appears in the video. And the video itself is in the league of “Rude Sounds” and “More Rude Sounds,” magnificent cds produced at the beginning of this century.

  • Jon Eiche says:

    Enjoyable as far as it goes, but I miss the dynamic range of the original, which is what gives the movement its poignancy and power.

  • Croak says:

    As much point as heavy metal played by a baroque ensemble. But I suppose it’s true: There is even worse junk out there.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      What a good idea! I would love to listen to heavy metal played by the Giardino Armonico. 🙂

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Il Giardino Armonico is in my opinion the worst sounding of all “historical instrument” ensembles. Its tone is unbelievably harsh and grating to the ear, and the conductors of this sorry group insist on playing everything at a breakneck speed.
        Compare it to the lovely sounds of the English Concert, for example, and you’ll see what I mean.
        Il Giardino Armonico already plays its own brand of “shred music” – it doesn’t need to play heavy metal.
        And as for the metal version of the Brahms Requiem? Garbage.

        • Pianofortissimo says:

          Indeed it is.

        • John Borstlap says:

          I have the Brandenburg Concerti by the Giardino, and I must say they are really very musical, but their taste is excruciatingly modernist – projecting 20C ‘cool’ into the 18th century and thinking that in those earlier times people always were in a hurry and loved hard tone qualities. It is HIP (Historically Informed Performance) with a double layer: it is how 20C HIPsters thought that 18C music should be played.

      • Marfisa says:

        I love the raw energy and sound of Il Giardino Armonico – but they have Vivaldi, the heavy metal of the early 1700s, so they don’t need to cover Megadeath! As for the Brahms, yes, it works rather well. The interaction between heavy metal and classical is often commented on, and is a fascinating part of the history of music in our time.

        • John Borstlap says:


          • Marfisa says:

            Not at all satire, John. Which bit? When I listen to baroque music on YouTube, I often come across comments like “I’m usually into heavy metal, but this stuff is great”, and the influence of classical (more especially baroque) music on heavy metal is in fact well recognized: e.g. Perhaps I overstated on Vivaldi, but his over-the-top sensationalist effects are some justification, and the criticism of him by Benedetto Marcello points in that direction. And I do like the energy of Il Giardino Armonico, though it is not my favorite baroque group (that has to be Collegium 1704, followed closely by The Voices of Music).

      • John Marks says:

        Back when my record label was up and running, I used to send out press releases on April Fools’ Day.

        My favorite one of those announced the forthcoming recording of Bartok’s “Concerto for Orchestra” on Elizabethan Instruments, by the “New New London Consort of Viols and Sackbuts.”

        That was more than 20 years ago.

  • christopher storey says:

    Poor old Brahms . Had he done something to deserve this travesty ?

    • Donna Pasquale says:

      So turgid the German Requiem. anything is an improvement.

      • John Borstlap says:

        The work is only ‘turgid’ if played turgidly. New insights into Brahms’ performance ideas show that he preferred a lean and transparant sound in his orchestra, his ideal was the classical orchestra and NOT the romantic. There is a false tradition of performing Brahms in a heavy, thick way, something he never wanted and this is also clear from the scores which are surprisingly ‘simple’ when compared with Berlioz, or Wagner. The Requiem does not need a heavy sound to be impressive and expressive. And, by the way, it is a masterpiece. Just by way of information.

    • Ashu says:

      Yes: having the broad appeal of great art.

  • Rafael Enrique Irizarry says:

    Yes, Mr. Lebrecht. It does work in some perverse way. This is a rather sordid exercise, but it does work and indeed surprisingly well. Frankly, I find it very disquieting, it is like the sort of pleasure some people feel watching a demolition derby. Is this what the Soviets meant when they alluded to the decadent culture of the West?

  • Ed says:

    It is certainly less painful than liver cancer.

  • Nick Eilen says:

    Langsam, marschmäßig . . . [?]

  • phf655 says:

    It doesn’t take much to rile me up when masterpieces are misappropriated, but in this case, oddly, I am amused and intrigued. That he would care enough about the piece to do this….It will probably have the effect of introducing this music, surely some of the greatest ever written, to a different audience. He has good German diction. Movements 5 and 6 are also available on Youtube. With the plushness of the Romantic era stripped away, movement 6 has an unexpected folklike quality. Movement 5, the soprano aria, is a miscalculation when the voice of a lyric soprano is substituted for this guy’s rantlike, raw vocalism.

  • MacroV says:

    Love it! Great music can be played many ways. Bach in full orchestration is wonderful. If only Brahms were still alive to collect the royalties from the licensing.

    Really, this site is way too full of humourless snobs. Get out of your mother’s basement (once it’s COVID-safe, anyway) and live a little.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The usual misunderstanding of populists who think that aesthetic quality must somehow have something to do with ‘not living life enough’ – which life? The one they are living, probably.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m sure Brahms would have agreed with the late, legendary Freddie Mercury: You can do anything you want with my music; just don’t make me boring. (And I’m sure Brahms would have done a killer Crazy Little Thing Called Love).

    Well done, Gentlemen.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    No, thank you.

    For me it’s Kempe, Grümmer, Fischer-Dieskau, BPO, St. Hedwigs… Recorded in 1955. Timeless.

    • John Marks says:

      For me, it is Celibidache Koln 1957 with Giebel and Hotter. The chorus sounds a bit threadbare at times, and pitch can be patchy, and the lo-budget mono sound is a bit unforgiving.

      But I have listened to dozens and dozens of German Requiem recordings, and this is the only one that (IMHO) adequately conveys Brahms’ conscious debt to Heinrich Schütz. Also, the presence of the pipe organ is perfectly calibrated.

      It seems that Qobuz offers you a choice of three or four remasterings of that recording on different CD labels. But the stop-press news is that Qobuz also offers a 1960 RAI Celibidache performance with Giebel. I must listen to that as soon as possible!

  • charles p cates says:

    I was in a performance of this work about 1976 here in Birmingham. When we finished, i was in another world. You have no idea what a piece of music is like until you have done it!!!!

  • Anon! A Moose! says:

    This is one of my favorite movements from anything, and I love it. To the haters in the thread, just know that prog rock’s borrowing of classical themes helped kindle my interest. Crossover with rock has probably made more fans than a thousand light classical pops. Give me this over von suppe any day.

    Though I do agree that they are missing an opportunity by not starting softer. Plenty of metal has the soft intro thing so I don’t know why they wouldn’t have given themselves some dynamic/intensity room to grow.