The Brussels Choral Society (BCS) presents its summer concert at the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles on Saturday, 13 June at 20:00. The programme includes Ein deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms, in the composer’s own version for choir and piano duet, three motets by Anton Bruckner, and Brahms’s Walzer for four hands piano.
The German Requiem, composed between 1865 and 1868, is one of the best loved works in the choral repertoire. Originally scored for orchestra, choir and soprano and baritone soloists, Brahms himself arranged the Requiem for piano duet. Such adaptations were common at the time, as they offered a way to experience a work when one could not attend a live performance.
The inspiration and origins of the Requiem remain unclear, but it is known that the mental breakdown and death of his friend and mentor Robert Schumann deeply affected the 30-year-old composer, as did the passing of his mother. Indeed, Brahms dedicated the piece to Schumann, his mother and to the whole of humanity.
The text of the Requiem provoked considerable controversy at the time of its composition. Rather than use the traditional Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, Brahms selected various passages from the German Luther Bible. Brahms himself noted that he would gladly have called the piece Ein menschliches Requiem (A Human Requiem), and the very message of Brahms’s text indicates that it is clearly not intended to be performed as a mass for the dead, but rather as a comfort and consolation about the dead, for the living. The text of the Requiem is unusual, developing a consistent theme of transition from anxiety to comfort, and the deliberate absence of references to Christ or the Christian dogma of redemption render this piece almost humanist in nature.
Anton Bruckner composed some 40 motets, spanning most of his life. The BCS will perform three motets from Bruckner’s “Vienna period”, dating from 1868 to 1896, comprising Os Justi, Locus Iste, and Christus factus est. The motets reflect the composer’s devout Roman Catholic beliefs, and within the rich harmonic textures so characteristic of the Romantic period, one can clearly hear the influences of plainchant and more ancient musical references.
Founded in 1979, the Brussels Choral Society is the largest amateur symphony choir in Belgium. Truly an international ensemble, the choir consists of over 120 members, representing more than 20 different nationalities. BCS singers come from all walks of life and share a common passion for choral music. Our singers have a wide variety of occupations, and many are professionally associated with the European institutions and international organisations. The choir is serious about its craft, but also likes to have fun and create community along with music.
The BCS, under the direction of Musical Director Eric Delson, will be joined by the pianists Philippe Navarre and Gabriel Diaconu, the soprano Sarah Van Mol and the baritone Michael Adair.