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23.5.05

Selig sind, die da Leid tragen!

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J. Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner
Brahms's Requiem is a hauntingly beautiful piece, but when described as "tedious", I can't help but gleefully nod on the inside. Along with Brahms's Piano Concerto in D Minor, I miss the coherent line of musical and dramatic development, an arch that compels the listener to pay attention from start to finish. But just like the piano concerto (and unlike the Missa Solemnis, for example), it contains such unadulterated beauty that during a live performance I usually surrender to it entirely, anyway. When it is played and sung as well as The Choral Arts Society of Washington did at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall last Thursday, being impressed by the German Requiem is inevitable. There were times when I would have liked a more secure woodwind section (especially in I. Selig sind die Toten) and here and there a bit more than just 'competence'. The 180-some throats were well coordinated by Norman Scribner. The bombastic climax of II. Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras, usually my least favorite section of the work, was rousing. Baritone David Arnold, who sang his part from memory, did not quite fill the Concert Hall with his voice and was occasionally covered by the orchestra, but the skillful performance showed his experience with the music. Twyla Robinson's voice unintrusively fit into the choral surroundings. For her nice timbre, one might like a little more personality from this promising voice.

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