Brahms re-visited

It was just turned one o’clock yesterday afternoon when I heard it.  From somewhere in the house, what sounded remarkably like the first movement of A German Requiem.  I went to investigate: it was indeed the Requiem, being broadcast on ABC Classic FM.  It was that time of day when they might have been doing just a single movement, or perhaps an entire performance.  There was a long pause at the end of the movement.  What would be next?  The announcer’s friendly voice telling us who had been singing, or the funeral march at the start of the second movement?  After an agonising wait, there came that unmistakeable deep, gruff, double bass note.  It was indeed the second movement.

At that moment, whatever else I was doing could wait.  Re-living last Saturday’s concert was the only thing to do.  Hearing the music was overwhelming.  The words, now I have some understanding of them, continue to be extraordinarily moving.  The music draws out and colours the words so well.  This is indeed the work of a genius and of a human being of great humanity.  I was also overwhelmed by the fact that our modest, unauditioned community choir had managed to put on a very creditable performance of this wonderful work, and that I had myself been a part of it.  What a privilege!

Then the phone rang.  The much awaited electrician was on his way to quote for some repairs.  Could he come now?  I suggested he might like to stop for a coffee en route, but he was keen to get on.  At least he had the decency not to arrive before the end of the sixth movement.  Regular readers will know that one of my favourite moments is when the trombones and tuba sweep upwards on arpeggios spanning three octaves, and we basses get the thrill of singing along with them.  So at least I got to do that again.

Then the electrician rang the door bell and I returned to earth with something of a thud.

Maybe last night we were all still in awe of last Saturday’s wonderful achievement.  Maybe that is why the rehearsal seemed a bit scrappy.  No doubt in a couple of weeks, although we might be unconsciously still humming tunes from the Requiem, we will be well down the track with the grace and style of Schubert and the ragged rhythms of Ramirez.

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