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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem; A Silent Night: a WWI Memorial in Song

11/05/2017 1:00 pm
11/05/2017 4:30 pm

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

This Sunday’s programming looks toward November 11th, which is Armistice Day, the end of hostilities on the Western front in World War One. He centenary of the First World War is now being observed worldwide, but more especially in Europe, and even more especially in France, where there was such awful battlefield mortality. Brahms’ “German requiem” I have broadcast four times before, there of those occasions on the first Sunday in November, with application to All Souls’ Day, November 2nd in the Roman Catholic church calendar, also referred to in Catholic Latin America as “The Day of the Dead.” Ein Deutsches Requiem (1868) is Johannes Brahms’ longest composition. He seems to have written it with his recently deceased mother in mind. Brahms assembled his own text for his Requiem from passages in the Lutheran Bible. Curiously, he left out any references to Jesus Christ. This secular Requiem has nothing to do with the Latin Requiem Mass. Text and music were meant to comprt the living who grieve over those they have lost. “A German Requiem” is intended for the concert hall, not Lutheran church services. On this fifth occasion of broadcast you will hear the live-in-performance recording made in March of 2013 with the musical resources of the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The Russian conductor Valery Gergiev was on the podium. The LSO was in its usual performance venue, the Barbican. Vocal soloists were soprano Sally Matthews and bass-baritone Christopher Maltman. The recording was issued in 2014 on a single silver disc under the orchestra’s own proprietary LSO Live record label.

The United States World War I Centennial Commission engaged the duo of baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan to record an entire recital of art songs inspired by the Great War. Songs by composers of the combatant nations are represented in the recital: from England songs of Finzi, Butterworth and Gurney, Carl Orff from Germany, from France Ravel, Poulenc and Debussy and Charles Ives from America. Ives did not serve in the war, but many of the other composers did, among them the Brit Ivor Novello, who wrote the popular tune, “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” Brancy and Dugan’s A Silent Night: a WWI memorial in Song was issued in 2017 on a single Yamaha compact disc.