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Brahms: A German Requiem (New English Adaptation by Robert Shaw). Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Utah Symphony/Craig Jessop, conductor (Telarc CD-80501).

Brahms: A German Requiem (New English Adaptation by Robert Shaw). Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Utah Symphony/Craig Jessop, conductor (Telarc CD-80501)

A few issues ago I wrote in my Ramblings column about what a memorable experience it was to stumble upon the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in rehearsal in the basement of the North Visitors' Center in Temple Square while on a business trip to Salt Lake City. That evening, conductor Craig Jessop spoke to the choir of the death of Robert Shaw the previous day, an event I had not heard about until I heard Jessop's moving remarks. The choir then went on rehearsing Shaw's English-language version of Brahms German Requiem, which they had been scheduled to perform in a special concert under Shaw's baton. Now Jessop, who had been a student of Shaw's and had been preparing the Choir for the event, was going to take over the concert for his departed mentor. When I learned that Telarc was going to record the concert for release as a CD, my expectations were very high.

Now that disc is here. And my expectations have been more than fulfilled -- this is a tremendous release musically, sonically, and emotionally. It is a recording to be treasured for decades to come.

From the opening moments, as the engineers capture a splendid carpet of bass energy, you know that this is going to be a sonic spectacular. Telarc engineers Jack Renner and Michael Bishop employed the DSD system for these sessions, with the master bit-mapped down to 16 bits for this CD version. The results are spectacular -- but very natural.

Soloists include Janice Chandler, soprano, and Nathan Gunn, baritone. With the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at their inspired best and the Utah Symphony providing solid orchestral support, conductor Jessop shapes a majestic, heart-felt performance that is simply overwhelming in its sonic and emotional impact. How stirring it is to hear the Choir intone, "Behold, all flesh is as the grass." You cannot listen without reflecting on your own mortality, and as the music moves on, reflecting on your hope for immortality.

This CD is, in every way, as good as recorded music gets. My review does not do it proper justice. It is better than I can ever say that it is. What a noble and fitting tribute to Mr. Shaw! -- KWN
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Nehring, Karl W.
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Dec 1, 1999
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