Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Culture Alert

This Friday night, the Milwaukee Symphony and its Chorus will perform the Brahms German Requiem.

As most of you know, this 'requiem' does not use the texts of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass; rather, it utilizes a group of biblical texts which directly or indirectly address death and the afterlife.

The piece, like all larger Brahms works, is jammed with shades of meaning and wonderful plays on harmony and melody; it also has two (TWO!!!) fugues which take Bach's personal fugue-fiefdom to the limit. The D major (key of joy) fugue in Movement 3 has various instruments holding "D" for 35 measures; and the C Major (key of affirmation) fugue in Movement 6 follows the conquest of Death. Further, the piece contains one of the finest musical representations of motherhood--combining the chorus' 'assurance' theme with that of a soloist using another variation of the same theme in a more declamatory manner.

But those little features are hardly the best reason to go. The BEST reason to go is to hear Andreas Delfs' interpretation. There are lots of conductors who "do" this piece, but only a very few who really understand the relationships between the text and the music--and the precisely correct tempo of each movement.

Delfs has this down pat, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Friday night, 8PM. Be There!!

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