Brahms’ ‘A German Requiem’ will be performed by Shrewsbury School Community Choir, at 7.30pm on Saturday, March 9th at Shrewsbury Abbey conducted by Richard Robbins. Article by Paul Bisson.
A 100-strong choir, soprano and baritone soloists and small orchestra will join together to present one of Brahms’ most moving works - ‘A German Requiem’ on March 9th.
The piece is an expression of the composer’s overwhelming loss of his mother - and also that of his friend and mentor Robert Schumann.
Brahms’ mother Christiane died of a stroke in February 1865, aged 76. Brahms, who was aged just 32 at the time, raced from Vienna to be with her but, by the time he had reached Hamburg, she had already died.
It is clear that he wanted – indeed, needed – to compose a piece in which he could pour out all his sorrow but also where he could find consolation.
Unlike the standard Catholic requiem mass in Latin, Brahms took his text from the Lutheran bible in the German vernacular, a profound reflection of his Protestant upbringing in North Germany. Whereas the Latin mass centres on eternal rest for the soul, Brahms’ work is more concerned with giving comfort to the living.
The work begins and ends with words from the Beatitudes – “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted” and “Blessed are they that die in the Lord” – the sayings of Jesus found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Around the central theme of the love that God offers humanity, like the comfort a mother gives her child, we are counselled to be patient as we wait for Christ’s return. There is a meditation on the vanity of earthly existence, a vision of Heaven and the dramatic victory over death of souls awaiting resurrection, ending with the music of the opening movement which offers a final consolation.
This is Richard Robbins’s second concert in the magnificent acoustics of the Abbey Church – last December saw his interpretation of Handel’s “Messiah” which played to a packed audience, using the chamber ensemble Noxwode to create an authentic baroque sound. The Choir will again perform “Messiah” in 2024 on 21 December in the Abbey.
Tickets are £15 for adults, £8 for under 18s (£17 and £10 respectively on the day) and are available online at TicketSource or in person from the Abbey shop or the Hive.