Axminster and District Choral Society to perform Brahms’ famous masterpiece: Ein Deutsches Requiem

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 April 2018

Harriet Mountford

Harriet Mountford


Axminster and District Choral Society will perform a German Requiem on Saturday, April 28.

For their spring concert this year the Axminster and District Choral Society have chosen to perform Brahms’ famous masterpiece: Ein Deutsches Requiem , a German Requiem.

It is Brahms’ greatest and longest choral work and is notable not only for the beauty of the music but also for the originality of the wording used.

Most Requiems use the standard Latin texts of the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead with the composer almost shaping the music to fit the preset text.

Brahms, however, carefully chose passages from Luther’s German translation of the Bible (which has a similar literary significance in the German-speaking world to the King James Version in English – speaking areas) to convey the precise sentiments he wanted.

Time and again grief is followed by consolation, despair by solace. Comfort is a recurring theme. The word ‘comfort’ itself recurs in several movements.

Brahms began to write the Requiem in 1865.

The first performance in 1867 was conducted by the 34-year-old composer and was well received. There were six movements.

A further movement was inserted later and became the fifth movement of the work as we now know it.

It was this version when performed in 1869 in Leipzig that won Brahms general acceptance across Europe as a composer of significance.

He was now able to demand five times as much for the Requiem as for any other work that he had sold before.

Although the work was written originally for choir and orchestra, Brahms also scored a version for four hands (two pianists and one piano), so that the Requiem could be performed in churches and other smaller venues, rather than in the grand concert halls.

Brahms had already demonstrated his fondness for the four-handed format; he used this format for his celebrated Liebeslieder.

This is the version that will be presented on April 28. The pianists will be Andrew Millington, former director of music at Exeter Cathedral and Peter Lea-Cox, who has an acknowledged reputation in the South West as a keyboard player and is the choir’s regular accompanist at rehearsals.

Peter Parshall, now firmly established as director, will conduct the chorus of more than 80 voices and the Requiem will be sung in the original German. There will be a translation in the printed programme.

The Soloists will be Harriet Mountford (soprano) and Julian Rippon (baritone) both of whom have sung with the society on several previous occasions.

Tickets for the concert on Saturday, April 28, at the Minster Church, Axminster, at 7.30pm, cost £12 and £15, from Archway Books, Church Street, Axminster, members of the choir or phone 01404 881838.


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