This version for 14 instruments and vocal ensemble offers unusual opportunities for detailed interpretation on a chamber-music scale. The wide range of sound colours and nuances encourages a new perception of the original score of Johannes Brahms’ German Requiem very much in the spirit of Arnold Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances. The project draws upon insights generated by historically informed performances of the work.
“No lasting place?” Is it possible, or indeed legitimate, to “reduce” so mighty and significant a work? Courage and pedagogical concerns finally overcame the initial artistic misgivings. Prof. Walter Nußbaum fell in with the suggestion from his conducting class at Hanover Conservatory to reappraise the German Requiem with an approach modelled on the chamber arrangements of works by Mahler and Bruckner for Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances in Vienna.
The upshot of this one-term collaboration with students and other lecturers was a successful public performance, which later served as the basis for an improved version of the score and for the concerts with the ensembles of KlangForum Heidelberg in Kehl und Heidelberg in November 2016.
At the first performance of this version in Kehl am Rhein – a purposely rural setting for the project - Walter Nußbaum opened the concert with György Ligeti’s Lux aeterna, following it up immediately with the first movement of the Requiem “Blessed are those that mourn”.
The project was supported by the Innovation Fund of Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts.
A live recording of this chamber version of the Brahms Requiem is available on CD from KlangForum Heidelberg.