Music at GMC: Brahms - A German Requiem Concert

Music at GMC

A German Requiem

Concert: A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms
Date: 7.30pm, Saturday 24th February, 2018
Choir: The Three Counties Choir
with members of the Ad Hoc Chorale
Soprano: Philippa Hardy
Baritone: Tom Wheare
Piano duet: Deborah & Stephen Binnington
Conductor: Nicholas Spice

A German Requiem

A German Requiem, to Words of the Holy Scriptures, Op. 45 (German: Ein deutsches Requiem, nach Worten der heiligen Schrift) by Johannes Brahms, is a large-scale work for chorus, orchestra, a soprano and a baritone soloist, composed between 1865 and 1868. It comprises seven movements, which together last 65 to 80 minutes, making this work Brahms's longest composition. The work is sacred but non-liturgical and, unlike a long tradition of the Latin Requiem, is a Requiem in the German language.

Brahms's mother died in February 1865, a loss that caused him much grief and may well have inspired Ein deutsches Requiem. His lingering feelings over Robert Schumann's death in July 1856 may also have been a motivation, though his reticence about such matters makes this uncertain.
His original conception was for a work of six movements; according to their eventual places in the final version, these were movements I-IV and VI-VII. By the end of April 1865, Brahms had completed the first, second, and fourth movements. The second movement used some previously abandoned musical material written in 1854, the year of Schumann's mental collapse and attempted suicide, and of Brahms's move to Düsseldorf to assist Clara Schumann and her young children.
Brahms completed all but what is now the fifth movement by August 1866. Johann Herbeck conducted the first three movements in Vienna on 1 December 1867. This partial premiere went poorly due to a misunderstanding in the timpanist's score. Sections marked as pf were played as f or ff, essentially drowning out the rest of the ensemble in the fugal section of the third movement. The first performance of the six movements premiered in the Bremen Cathedral six months later on Good Friday, 10 April 1868, with Brahms conducting and Julius Stockhausen as the baritone soloist. The performance was a great success and marked a turning point in Brahms's career.
In May 1868 Brahms composed an additional movement, which became the fifth movement within the final work. The new movement, which was scored for soprano soloist and choir, was first sung in Zürich on 12 September 1868 by Ida Suter-Weber, with Friedrich Hegar conducting the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich. The final, seven-movement version of A German Requiem was premiered in Leipzig on 18 February 1869 with Carl Reinecke conducting the Gewandhaus Orchestra and Chorus, and soloists Emilie Bellingrath-Wagner and Franz Krückl.

Brahms prepared an alternative version of the work to be performed as a piano duet with four hands on one piano. This version also incorporates the vocal parts, suggesting that it was intended as a self-contained version probably for at-home use. However, the vocal parts can also be omitted, making the duet version an acceptable substitute accompaniment for choir and soloists in circumstances where a full orchestra is unavailable. This is the version that was performed this evening.

The Three Counties Choir was started in 2011, having its origins in a choir formed to sing Messiah for the bicentenary of St George's, Bourton in 2010. The choir has given one concert every year since then, singing works from the classical choral repertoire. Rehearsals are led, organised and accompanied by Tom Wheare, Ros Wheare and Graham Perryman.

The Ad Hoc Chorale is a group of experienced singers which meets three times a year to perform a concert in a day.

After a Choral Scholarship at Selwyn College, Cambridge, Philippa Hardy continued her singing studies with Janice Thompson whilst teaching music at St Mary's Calne. She now studies with Linda Brown, is Director of Music at Knighton House prep school, and takes occasional private pupils.

Tom Wheare sang in the choir of King's College, Cambridge under David Willcocks and the choir of Christ Church Cathedral under Simon Preston. He and his wife Ros started and run the local Three Counties Choir and the occasional gatherings of the Ad Hoc Chorale.

Deborah Binnington studied the Piano and Singing at the Royal Academy of Music from where she graduated with several prizes and diplomas. In a varied career, she has worked as a singer, piano accompanist and teacher.
Stephen Binnington studied at the Royal College of Music. Organist of St.Gregory's, Marnhull, he is a busy freelance musician, performing, accompanying and composing. Two of his recorder compositions are in the current ABRSM exam syllabus.
The husband and wife team have been presenting programmes of piano duets in many parts of the country for over 30 years!

Nicholas Spice is the publisher of the London Review of Books. He has conducted the Highbury Chamber Choir, which he founded, for the last thirty years.

Page Last Updated:Monday 25th of February 2019 09:16:30 PM