Jenna Simeonov, Schmopera
For the second half, the TSO was joined by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and soloists Erin Wall and Russell Braun. I’m not shy about admitting how much I love Brahms’ German Requiem – most music by Brahms, in fact – and so it’s always a must-see when I’m presented with the chance to hear it live. The TMC sounded spectacular under the direction of Noel Edison, as did the solo singing by Braun and Wall – Wall in particular filled the Hall with her stunning soprano.
Still, I can’t deny that the German Requiem is flawed. It’s too long at times, there’s too much of the same tempo between movements, and Brahms is notoriously stingy with his moments of blissful musical satisfaction. That utterly awesome moment of “Denn alles Fleisch” is just too brief, no? The warm uniformity of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the moving performances by Braun and Wall, and Oundjian made sure the piece tumbled forward as much as it can. There’s always been something appealing and underdog-like about Brahms’ music; the way he overthinks things has its charm, especially when the overthinking culminates in those moments of wash-right-over-you beauty – though they may leave you wanting more – that seem at once created and evoked.
Read the full review here.