This week Barts Choir performed Brahms’ German Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall. Barts is one of London’s largest choirs, regularly performing all over the city, in places from the Royal Festival Hall to smaller more intimate venues. Brahms German Requiem comprises of seven movements, and is rather long at around 80 minutes long. We had two intervals at the Royal Albert Hall performance, which was quite nice as it gave you a chance to have a rest and recover before the next part.
The German Requiem is said to have been influenced by the death of Brahms’ mother, and the feeling of grief coupled with the joy at a celebration of life is ever present throughout the score. For me the fourth and fifth movements are the most beautiful, rising and falling with emotion and moving me to tears every time.
Brahms’ German Requiem is in my eyes one of the greats, the fourth movement makes my heart soar, and Barts Choir performed it magnificently, although there was one major slip-up when they hit a flat note in the sixth movement. However, with Ivor Setterfield conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Alexander Robin Baker singing baritone, and Sophie Bevan singing soprano, it was bound to be a fantastic night despite a slight flaw.
The requiem is about celebrating life and the living, and is supposed to be a comfort for those left on Earth. Listening to Ein deutsches Requiem online or on a CD is wonderful, but hearing it sung live, is something everyone must do if you appreciate Brahms. It was something very special, so thank you Barts Choir for performing in such a fabulous concert venue, and with such achingly beautiful passion. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing that fourth movement with such love and tenderness. Just, breathtaking.