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22.5.05

Selig sind, die da Leid tragen - Brahms' Requiem with the Choral Arts Society 

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J. Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem, EBS, Monteverdi Choir, Gardiner
Brahms' Requiem is a hauntingly beautiful piece, but when described it as "tedious", I can't help but gleefully nod on the inside. Along with Brahms' d-minor Piano Concerto, I miss then 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 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 wood-wind section (especially in I. Selig sind die Toten) and a 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, 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 and was occasionally covered by the orchestra but his skillful performance showed his experience with the music. Twyla Robinson's voice un-intrusively fit into the choral surroundings. For her nice timbre, one might like a little more personality from this promising voice.

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