Brahms all over. Soothing tones dissolving into more soothing tones. I would like to say you can fall asleep to this, but there are some exciting moments too. This is a work meant for grieving people, to give them solace. There is peace after death, Selig sind die Toten.
Brahms started his longest work in the year his mother died, 1865. He finished it three years later. In it he used his own texts, derived from the Lutheran bible. The texts are not that Christian, but more humanist in nature. It is as if Brahms tried to write this for all, not only for Catholic Christians.
This recording for me is the standard for this work. It is made in 1962 and went through a lot of reissues. It is seen as an iconic performance of the work, rich yet transparant. So… when I saw the work live in the Dominicuskerk in Amsterdam in 2006 by the Sweelinck Orchestra, naturally I was disappointed. I was so used to this beautiful sound, that it is hard for me to hear anything else. So having a beautiful recording like this can spoil all others a bit.
Included on this record, but alas, not on streaming, is also the alto rhapsody. A short work of incredible beauty. A wedding gift for Robert and Clara Schumann’s daughter Julie. Brahms might have had feelings for her.