Argentina Brahms: Rundfunkchor Berlin, Orchestra L’arte del mondo / Gijs Leenaars (conductor), Mozarteum Argentino at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 31.10.2016. (JSJ)
Brahms – Ein deutsches Requiem
For its last concert of the year Mozarteum Argentino brought the Rundfunkchor (Radio Choir) Berlin along with the Orchestra L’arte del mondo for two concerts with outstanding programmes – the first Brahms’ German Requiem (attended by this reviewer) and the second including Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor (K. 626).
The Rundfunkchor Berlin has a long and venerable history – it was founded in 1925 – and the opportunity to see and hear it was one that was too good to miss. And especially with this unique work by Brahms, his longest and most expansive vocal work.
The German Requiem is a large scale work primarily for chorus, which was completed in 1868 when Brahms was just 35 years old. Its origin is uncertain, but has been associated both to the then recent death of his mother and that of Robert Schumann a decade before. But unlike the traditional Roman Catholic requiem masses with their standard Latin text, Brahms himself assembled the text from the German Luther Bible.
The text is comprised of seven sections drawn from the Psalms, the epistle of Peter, Isaiah, Hebrews and Book of Revelation among others. Of these two include a baritone solo and one a soprano solo – here feelingly sung by chorus members Artem Nesterenko and Anne Bretschneider.
The Orchestra L’arte del mondo – despite its name, of German origin, founded in 2004 by Werner Ehrhardt, who is still a first violinist – along with the chorus was conducted by the latter’s new director, Gijs Leeenars. Despite his relative youth (he was born in 1978) he brought insight and depth to the music, which shows such variability in mood during its 70 or so minutes of length.
The chorus, some 60 strong, showed its professionalism with the absence of scores and was sensitive and expressive, and with the individual parts totally at one.
Jonathan Spencer Jones