Berkshire Choral International

Majestic Requiem in an Outstanding Hall

Brahms Requiem

August 6-13, 2017
Concert: August 12 at Vigadó Hall

Conductor: Heinz Ferlesch

 

Ein Deutsche Requiem, the German Requiem, the Brahms Requiem: Whatever you call it, it adds up to one of the greatest choral works ever written.

From the slow and majestic opening, "Selig sind, die da Leid tragen" ("Blessed are they that mourn"), the music ebbs and flows through the New Testament passages that assure the bereaved of a merciful God and a life everlasting for their loved one.

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), following the Lutheran tradition, broke with the traditional Roman requiem mass, composing seven movements and choosing texts from the Lutheran Bible, including psalms, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Revelation to John. Sometimes militant, sometimes ethereal, the music reflects this break and adherence to both St. Paul's and Martin Luther's insistence that one is justified through faith. There is no "dies irae" here, no talk of Judgment Day at all, but "Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit ("Ye now are sorrowful, howbeit ye shall again behold me, and your heart shall be joyful. . .")

Vigadó Hall, the second oldest concert hall in Budapest, is located along the Danube Promenade in Pest. Completed in 1865, it replaced an earlier concert hall destroyed in the Hungarian War of Independence in 1848-1849. The style designed by Frigyes Feszl combines Oriental and Hungarian Art Nouveau. Feszl's commission in 1859 came six years after his first major work, the Dohány Street Synagogue, was inaugurated, and the two buildings have similar onion-domed towers. Two major artists of the day, Károly Lotz and Mór Than, painted the ballad-themed frescoes of the interior. The main concert hall can accommodate up to 700 people. There is also a chamber hall (220 seats) that hosts drama performances, chamber concerts and various other cultural events. The Vigadó Gallery is a popular art exhibition center.