Friday, March 24, 2017

Brahms' Requiem

Last weekend I saw the National Philharmonic at the Strathmore. The performance included Brahms' Requiem, as well as the D.C.-area premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff's Zohar. Let's talk about the latter first.

Before the performance even began, there was a short discussion with cantors Laura Croen and Michael Shochet. I thought that was a nice touch, since they could explain a little bit behind the Zohar piece. Here's a short video about Zohar from the composer:

Here is the piece broken down into parts:

I. Zohar
Translation of the Hebrew: The wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens.

II. What is man?

III. Twenty-two letters (There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.)

IV. Tiferes, Shepherd Boy

V. Zohar

VI. Higher than High

And here is the Brahms piece (it's over an hour long, so feel free to just listen to bits of it!):

*Find a translation of the German lyrics here.

Two soloists performed that evening. Danielle Talamantes is a soprano, and Nmon Ford is a baritone. While I could not find videos of them singing any of these particular pieces, I did find several videos of her on YouTube, and you can hear Ford in the "shepherd boy" part of Zohar above (I found it interesting that a baritone was singing the voice of a little boy, although he is also the voice of God in the song, so that seemed fitting!).

I find that religious performances can be hit or miss, but I did enjoy this one. I hope you do, too!

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