A solemn pause invoked a reverent hush over the usually exuberant Live performance Corridor auditorium for Brahms’ German Requiem on Friday.
WA Symphony Orchestra and Refrain, conductor Asher Fisch and soloists Elena Perroni and Adrian Tamburini gave a targeted, at instances fervent studying of a wealthy and considerate work that held the viewers in quiet consideration till the final.
It’s additionally a curious piece: premiered in church on Good Friday, but with no point out of Christ or the cross; a solemn collation of biblical texts couched in beneficiant main key harmonies.
Deeply resonant chords in strings, horns, and organ pedal notes launched an ethereal choir singing from excessive behind the orchestra, “Blessed are they that mourn”, from Matthew’s beatitudes.
Emotionally charged but diligently sung, the refrain rose and fell in depth with the expression of the phrases, “sow in tears … reap in pleasure”, whereas Fisch coaxed multilayered sounds from voice and orchestra.
Vivid stars in violin and trumpet are sidelined for extra sombre decrease strings and brass on this first motion; a subdued palette giving voice free rein to train easy authority, harp gilding the lily in conclusion.
Brahms lived at a time when “greater criticism” of scripture emerged in Germany, a particular college of thought that also informs up to date theology; therefore his eclectic sampling of the Bible is of a chunk together with his time.
The title additionally, German Requiem, factors away from the Catholic custom to the vernacular custom of Protestant Europe, quoting Luther’s model of the textual content.
But the mind by no means overrules the center in quest of the dearly departed – in Brahms’ case, almost definitely his mom – and the refrain carried the load of this quest with keen power all through the night.
A fuller orchestral sound opens the second motion, timpani the regular hand of destiny behind a serene soundscape for the fatalistic incantation, “all flesh is as grass”; saints Peter and James and the prophet Isaiah mixed within the libretto.
A dramatic temper grew via the strains, “the grass withers and the flower falls away”, lifting in the direction of pastoral hope then blazing with “eternal pleasure” and cooling within the reflection, “sorrow and sighing shall flee away”; waxing and waning underneath Fisch’s calm, deft path.
Enter baritone Tamburini; a transparent and interesting tone carrying the narrative line, fatalistic in lament — “my life is as nothing earlier than you” — over choral accompaniment intimating ecstasy; brass swelling the theme and organist Alessandro Pittorino injecting power and energy via the psalmist’s declaration: “My hope is in you.”
A extra numinous temper returned for the refrain, “How pretty are your dwellings”, the Outdated Testomony hope of this-world salvation by no means removed from thoughts.
Then the choir subsided and Perroni rose, sonorous strings heralding her beautiful soprano drifting as on a breeze throughout the orchestra; singing of sorrow with a way of awe that stuffed the corridor.
“I’ll consolation you as a mom comforts her little one,” she intoned; strains from Isaiah that connect with Brahms’ personal mourning, sung with such calm, clear high quality she appeared to embody the very human, heartfelt aspirations of the textual content, discovering echoes within the woodwind refrain to shut.
Tamburini returned for the Hebrews’ lament, “For we now have no everlasting house right here” — a sentiment seemingly belied by the baritone’s fixed presence within the music; summoning “the final trombone” and St Paul’s triumphant imaginative and prescient of resurrection.
A mountainous sound erupted to the problem, “Loss of life the place is your sting?” — brass staking out a stark topology as woodwind and string ran like streams throughout it; no “dies irae” or day of judgment, however a melodrama of hope and homecoming.
The final phrase went to the refrain, opening the ultimate motion with “Blessed are the lifeless” — a bookend to “Blessed are they that mourn” within the introduction — fading to a prayerful conclusion in voice, orchestra and organ.
Applause was at first measured, however sustained; then exploded in wild cheers when refrain director Andrew Foote acknowledged his prices.
It’s a bit like derby day when the 2 groups, orchestra and refrain, mix; and the choir stalls have been proper to rejoice a win.
WASO repeats Brahms’ German Requiem on Saturday, June 26, 7.30pm at Perth Live performance Corridor.
Subsequent week WASO performs Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. www.waso.com.au.