The Philadelphia Inquirer
, May 2004
"For those of us who have an ongoing relationship with the piece, Brahms' A German Requiem is unimaginable without an orchestra. And yet the composer himself imagined a version stripped bare of its now-beloved instrumental lushness, and then set about writing it. Brahms' own reduction of Ein Deutsches Requiem for two pianos, soprano, baritone and small chorus in a release by Accentus, the French chamber-chorus, shimmers with simplicity and unexpected beauties.
A two-piano version of A German Requiem might seem supremely missable. Much of the majesty of Brahms' Opus 45 comes directly from the orchestrations - the heavenly harp, the cushion of orchestral sounds that evoke comfort and rage. But this new release of the "London Version" of Ein Deutsches Requiem makes it obvious that you can't completely know the Brahms work until you've heard it in its two-piano form. Not that one needs to choose between that and the orchestra form of the work, which is also out on a DVD (Arthaus Musik) with Barbara Bonney, Bryn Terfel and the Berlin Philharmonic under Claudio Abbado.
Piano reductions had a marketing value in their day not apparent now. The more compact a piece was, the more likely it would be performed. But there's nothing low-rent about the "London Version"; it is no artistic compromise. In fact, it has a startling power that is obscured in the orchestral version. The vocal lines are clearer, the harmonies easier to interpret. And somehow at this moment, its intimacy and directness seem appropriate. Four Stars."