Saturday, June 02, 2007

Meditation on A German Requiem

Perhaps you feel there probably is no God, and we just die and that's the end, but how can one resist the vision of God? It is mankind's most beautiful creation.

And what embodies the vision of God better than A German Requiem? We know that Brahms must have been evangelisch and not katholisch because he chooses his texts from Martin Luther's translation of the Bible, and because in his vision there is no hell. There is only the withering of the flesh and the vision of God's heaven with our everlasting comfort.

In the store I listened to Simon Rattle's new version, but I don't really care for that narrow concept of a chorus. I like a big tone for Brahms. Dorothea Röschmann's "Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit" is very beautiful, but I long to hear Kathleen Battle's version again. She sang in the performances I was in with the San Francisco Symphony years ago. I also don't seem to be able to ignore Quastoff's wobble.

So I chose this version from 1983 with James Levine, the Chicago Symphony and chorus, Kathleen Battle, Haken Hagegard, and chorus training by the legendary Margaret Hillis.

A German Requiem celebrates the end of life and the passage of our souls into heaven. What could exceed the ecstatic entry of the ransomed of the Lord into heaven with rejoicing and eternal joy. The entire work moves from one joyful ecstasy to another. It may well be my favorite piece of music, one I have sung several times and know virtually by heart.

You, too, will long for the house of the Lord. In my heart "Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit" will always be in Kathleen Battle's voice.

These words are the central message of Christianity set in its most attractive and soul inspiring music. I can see the vision of heaven in my heart.

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