- Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), for soprano, baritone, chorus & orchestra, Op. 45
This new English-language adaptation of Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem" was among the final achievements of the late Robert Shaw, the conductor whose name is virtually synonymous with choral music in the United States. Revered for his meticulous, craftsmanlike approach to large choral works, Shaw also had a scholarly knack for probing the spiritual meaning of every text he approached. With his English adaptation of the King James text, he allows the German Requiem to speak anew to modern English listeners, just as Brahms connected with his 19th-century countrymen by setting biblical passages from Luther's German translation rather than the traditional Latin Requiem Mass. Shaw's death in early 1999 -- less than three weeks before he was to record this new edition with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Utah Symphony -- left his protegé Craig Jessop faced with the daunting task of completing the project himself. Jessop draws a magisterial performance from the Utah forces, imparting the work's spiritual gravity through smoothly molded vocal lines and measured tempos, particularly in the funereal tread of the second movement, "Behold, all flesh is as the grass," and the mighty fugue in the sixth movement. Both soloists are outstanding -- Janice Chandler is golden-toned and Nathan Gunn incisively dark. Telarc's vivid sound conveys every syllable of the English texts with pinpoint clarity.