Funeral fun with Franui at the Holland Festival

Florian Boesch/Franui: Mahler/Schubert/Schumann et al.

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam, 21st June 2017

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Innervillgraten, East Tyrol, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A concert hall is the wrong venue for Franui. The “musicbanda” from East Tyrol belongs on a bandstand in a park or on a breezy pier. Their audience should be eating ice-cream and drinking beer instead of sitting quietly in the dark. Franui’s bittersweet folk arrangements of German art songs, with elements of jazz and klezmer, call up village fêtes, weddings and, especially, funerals.

Full review on Bachtrack.

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Buoyant Brahms’ First from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under Iván Fischer

Bach/Brahms: RCO/Fischer

Concertgebouw, 6th April 2016

What is Bach to Brahms? The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra concluded their four-programme exposition on this question with a Magnificat followed by Brahms’ Symphony no. 1 in C minor. Brahms not only championed Bach when it was not a given to do so, but also drew copious inspiration from his works. After labouring in Beethoven’s vast shadow for about fourteen years, he revealed his fully-fledged First Symphony, which was both an overt tribute to Beethoven and Brahms’ coronation as his successor as master of the genre. The work also owes much to Bach, however, in its use of complex counterpoint. Juxtaposing the two masterpieces clarified their common lineage.

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Johannes Brahms

Full review on Bachtrack.

Netherlands Radio Choir in sublimely contemplative German Requiem

Brahms: Netherlands Radio Phil/De Waart

Concertgebouw, 24th January 2016

The Netherlands Radio Choir (Groot Omroepkoor) is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary with a series of jubilee concerts. In a list of their favourite choral works drawn up for Dutch radio, choir members put Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem in first place, followed by Verdi’s Messa da Requiem and Britten’s War Requiem. The chorus is undoubtedly the star in the Brahms. It is prominent in all seven movements, including the three featuring solo singers. The work that established Brahms’ reputation certainly received star treatment last Sunday at the Concertgebouw, not only from the chorus, but from the excellent soloists, in a controlled and sympathetic transcription by conductor Edo de Waart.

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Netherlands Radio Choir (Groot Omroepkoor)

Full review on Bachtrack.