Brahms German Requiem is my favourite choral piece, writes Naomi Roseth. I rarely forego an opportunity to hear it. A few months ago I got up at dawn to watch a streamed live performance by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. It sure was technically perfect and I knew that I was listening and watching the world’s best musicians, but somehow it did not move me. I even asked myself whether my enthusiasm for the piece is waning.
But one Sunday afternoon in June I had another opportunity to listen to the German Requiem and realized that nothing changed in my love of that piece.
The Sydney Chamber Choir performed in the Great Hall of Sydney University. The concert was titled “Life Begins at 40”. Like us, that Choir too has now been singing for forty years.
The first half of the program consisted of short pieces by Ligeti, Dufay, Ockeghem and des Pres and a piece by the Australian Clare Maclean commissioned for the Choir and performed for the first time. These pieces, all sung a capella, sure gave the Choir the opportunity to display its immense competence but for me a program that includes the German Requiem does not require any addition. It shines on it own.
The 24 strong regular choir was augmented by several past members, including one who sang at the inaugural performance 40 years ago. The soprano soloist was Belinda Montgomery who is the chorus master. The baritone was Alexander Knight, known to us from our past concerts. Alexander still looks like one who barely graduated from high school but the voice he produces and the ease, charm and diction with which he produces it are that of an experienced master.
In the recent ABC Classic FM Countdown, the theme ‘Swoon’ was defined as music that stops you at your track. This happened to me in a big way on Sunday afternoon in that Great Hall. I was totally immersed in the music and by the song “Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen”, which the program notes described as “the emotional heart of the work”, I could barely breath.
How I would love our Choir to sing the German Requiem again!
Your editors would be delighted to publish views by other Choir members on their favourite music – please get in touch with Naomi Roseth or Richard Griffiths.