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Part of me wonders if we really need any more recordings of Brahms’s greatest choral work. As far as this most recent interpretation goes, the answer lies in the excellence of the choral singing. Simon Halsey’s London Symphony Chorus are well-drilled in their German pronunciation, their delivery of the meaning of the text and their understanding of Brahms’s style. They can be incisive or intimate, as required, and under Gergiev’s direction make as much as possible of the dramatic contrasts inherent in the piece. They are particularly impressive in the demanding fugal choruses, especially the C major ‘Herr, du bist würdig’, and are given idiomatic support by the LSO. With excellent soloists – Maltman is commanding and Matthews ethereal yet warmly expressive – this is a performance to return to. Only the recorded sound (it was taken from a performance given last year at the Barbican) occasionally disappoints.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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