Böhm, Karl

Performance DetailsRelease DetailsReviews
Soprano: Irmgard Seefried
Alto: Hilde Rössel-Majdan
Tenor: Anton Dermota
Bass: Gottlob Frick

Choir: Wiener Staatsopernchor
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Conductor: Karl Böhm

Date: November 20, 1955
Venue: State Opera House, Vienna, Austria
Live Recording

Label: Orfeo
Cat No.: C 670 051 B
Released: November 29, 2005
Karl Böhm’s 1971 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Mozart’s Requiem has long been regarded as the best, deepest, truest, and most Austrian recording of the work. With the Wiener Staatsopernchor and the Wiener Philharmoniker, plus soloists Edith Mathis, Julia Hamari, Wieslaw Ochman, and Karl Ridderbusch, Böhm created a fuliginously sorrowful, luminously consoling, and numinously blessed performance of Mozart’s final masterpiece and Deutsche Grammophon has wisely kept the performance almost continuously in print since its release. But old timers always said there was another, even better, Böhm-led performance of the Requiem, a performance given during the gala, month-long celebration of the re-opening of the Wiener Staatsoper in November 1955, a performance said to have the special intensity of a solemn musical ceremony. Destroyed during the last days of the war, the reopening of the country’s pre-eminent opera house 10 years later under Böhm was Austria’s joyous re-affirmation of its cultural identity. But also included in the festival was an afternoon concert of the Requiem preceded by a reading of Hölderlin’s Ode an die Menschheit that made sure that the dead were remembered as well. Considered lost for decades, a recording of the entire performance has at last been released on Orfeo, and as it turns out, Böhm and his forces did indeed give a performance fully commensurate with the occasion. With Irmgard Seefried, Hildegard Rössel-Majdan, Anton Dermota, and Gottlob Frick, plus, of course, the Wiener Staatsopernchor and the Wiener Philharmoniker, Böhm’s 1955 Requiem goes even deeper into the sorrowful heart of the work by being even truer both to its composer and to his country. As captured in Orfeo’s harsh but honest remastering, this Requiem demands to be heard by anyone who was ever touched by the work — and that, of course, includes everyone who has ever heard the work.
James Leonard, AllMusic.com