27 May 2017

BRAHMS: A German Requiem

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 27 May 2017

A German Requiem by Brahms is performed by Katherine McIndoe, Simon Christie and The Tudor Consort with Emma Sayers and Richard Mapp (piano duet), all directed by Michael Stewart.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms Photo: Public Domain

Ein deutsches Requiem has been a fixture of the choral repertoire since its triumphant first complete performance in Leipzig in 1879, and was the work with which Johannes Brahms made his name. It’s generally thought that the impetus for the work was the death of his mother in 1865, an event that had a profound effect on him, but the death of his friend and mentor Robert Schumann the following year must also have contributed.

It’s not a conventional Requiem setting, as it does not set the text of the Latin Requiem Mass. Instead, Brahms skilfully compiles a number of verses from Luther’s German Bible that provide comfort for the living as opposed to focussing on the deceased. This humanist view is underlined by the fact that he is quoted as saying that he could easily have named the work “Ein menschliches Requiem" (A human Requiem).

The London Version grew out of Brahms’ desire to make the work more accessible. He was dissatisfied with the infrequent opportunities for its presentation, and so arranged the work for piano duet accompaniment, instead of orchestra, with the hope that it would encourage more performances.

Recorded by RNZ at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul in May 2017

Engineer: Graham Kennedy

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