Next up in this season’s choral program for me is the Brahms Requiem. This is getting off the long flight and seeing loved ones waiting at the gate. This is finding out the final exam has been cancelled. This is remembering that tomorrow is Christmas morning. Why? Because a) I love this piece, and b) I already have it memorized!
Unfortunately, a quick review has reminded me that I only *think* I have it memorized. There are a few places where I mumble the German, and a few time values I may have learned incorrectly and never made the adjustment. Still, for a great piece such as this one, where not only do I know it but I’ve sung it for John Oliver twice before — once at MIT, and once out at Tanglewood — getting reacquainted with this masterpiece has been a wholesome pleasure.
Last summer when we sang the three short Brahms pieces (Schicksaslied, Nänie, and the Alto Rhapsody), I found myself reminded of the German Requiem because of the cadences, the interplay between orchestra and chorus, the word painting, and just the general sumptuousness of Brahms’s choral writing. As an added bonus, my wife is also on the same roster, so we’ll get to do this journey together, rather than one of us cheering from the sidelines. (Her journey will be a little longer, however, as she recently switched back from alto to soprano and isn’t as familiar with the piece as I am.)
First rehearsal is Monday…!