Friday, November 16, 2012

Requiem

Briefly. I just watched Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem with Patrick Marco on medici.tv from somewhere in France. They performed with 2 pianos and timpani for "Den alles Fleisch" which would sound quite odd without drums. It sounds quite odd anyway, but is more transparent this way. 

Everything that Cecilia Bartoli is singing in for Pfingsten is already sold out. Including this piece. Sigh. Norma will be repeated in August, but not the Brahms. Maybe they will stream. I feel a mixture of profound curiosity and fear about hearing this. I know people sneer, but it is my favorite piece. Enough.

P.S. I posted this in a comment, but I think it might go better here.

I have always heard sincerity in Brahms. Everything about the deutsches Requiem is his own creation--the choice of text, the structure, the music, the orchestration. It is all his personal musical and religious expression.

I was good with the two piano format because it is known that this is the format in which Brahms often composed. Perhaps it's even authentic. Wagner jettisoned the whole idea of structure and invented his own structure by free association.

I always admire Brahms for his life long attempt to create in the traditional structures. I always hear humility in Brahms, a character trait entirely missing in Herr Wagner. The Wagnerites hate Brahms for just this quality.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I though Pelleas et Melisande was your favorite piece...?

Dr.B said...

P&M I have heard only about 3 times. DR I can sing the whole thing from memory.

Dr.B said...

And my favorite opera has always been Rosenkavalier.

Alexander Johannesen said...

So, for someone who doesn't know the piece, why would some people sneer at it (or at it being your favourite)?

Dr.B said...

People involved with music tend to take sides, this often means taking sides against Brahms. In particular the Brahms Requiem is considered intolerably corny by some.

Alexander Johannesen said...

Sure, but I'm interested in why they do it. Is Brahms pompous? Is his clichés real or contextual to his time? Is there symbolism that now seem outdated? Themes that now are blasé?

It's an interesting point to me as someone who loves opera and early baroque music where - frankly - a lot of the stuff is rather corny at times (except - for me - curiously not Monteverdi, who wrote corny letters but music never seem to fall off the ladder, he said without a blush); everything is corny in *some* context, right? Is Brahms considered corny in our modern context?

Dr.B said...

I have always heard sincerity in Brahms. Everything about the deutsches Requiem is his own creation--the choice of text, the structure, the music, the orchestration. It is all his personal musical and religious expression.

I was good with the two piano format because it is known that this is the format in which Brahms often composed. Perhaps it's even authentic.

Wagner jettisoned the whole idea of structure and invented his own structure by free association. I always admire Brahms for his life long attempt to create in the traditional structures.

I always hear humility in Brahms, a character trait entirely missing in Herr Wagner. The Wagnerites hate Brahms for just this quality.

Alexander Johannesen said...

Thanks for sharing, and your thoughts on Wagner certainly resonates with me; I find Wagner over the top and - often, I'm afraid to say - corny, and often lacking in subtleties where some is needed. I like his music more than his opera.

I'm not overly familiar with Brahms except his symphonies and violin concertos (of which all I like, but I have a hate-love relationship with the Romantic era), but I'll check out the German Requiem (listening to it now, sounds like really nice stuff, embracing a more solemn lieder tradition, although the version I'm listening to has soloists who think vibrato means switching fast between octaves ... :), thanks for the pointer.

Which version do you enjoy the most?

Dr.B said...

I'm afraid my favorite performance of the DR was one in which I participated--San Francisco Symphony, Robert Shaw conducting, Kathleen Battle singing. It was beautiful beyond belief.

I used to have a tape of it, but it was stolen out of my car.

There is a commercial recording with Battle. It isn't as good as ours, but it's fine.