Saturday, September 19, 2009

things have cycles

I'm trying to remember when I first became obsessed with Brahms' German Requiem. I think it was not long after college, by which time I had pretty much worn out my requiem reserves on Mozart; I would wander around Chicago playing the Von Karajan recording of the (Brahms) Requiem with Gundula Janowitz on me cassette Walkman (the nerdy lugubrious side of my personality will always out.) I went to the CSO specifically to hear it sometime in the mid-90s, only I can't remember now if it was Solti or Barenboim conducting (I think it was Barenboim, and he took it really slow. Too slow.) I will always remember watching the opening New York Philharmonic gala on PBS just after 9/11--when they substituted the Requiem at the last minute and nobody clapped afterward--which is still one of the odder and more intense musical experiences of my life. I felt like I had dreamt it. I've heard it on planes, in cabs...

Music has cycles, comes up in waves. And I am definitely back in a Deutsches Requiem cycle now, especially with the "Wie lieblich sind diene Wohnungen" movement. It started when someone I know (not well, but well enough to be all excited for them) in the Tanglewood Chorus was preparing to sing it at Kennedy's funeral. Then I heard it in church last week. Then I heard it in some kind of movie preview or something. Then today there was a loud truck horn outside (not at all an unusual occurrence) but what made me perk up was that it was a strong A♭, the first note (I think--I mean, I know it's the note, just not entirely sure it's A♭--I had to noodle around on GarageBand to find it) of the organ beginning in the "Wie Lieblich" segment. I could just hear it in my head.

The Requiem is an intense piece of music to be involved with. I think you have to kind of be careful. It's not just that it's sad, because it is triumphant also, but it is so intensely emotional that one can be not sure what to do next. Perfect and beautiful, too. Art hurts!


Sheri said...

Definitely an all time favorite of mine too. I don't think I've ever performed it tho, which come to think of it is strange.

Did we not see (together) the CSO perform it? I seem to remember this, but I know I heard it with GS, not DB.

Elizabeth M. Tamny said...

Gah, S, my original comment to you didn't post!

Anyhow, maybe it *was* the Requiem I saw with you. I have had this feeling it was something else, but I know we saw Solti together for sure, so maybe that was it? Maybe I've seen it more than once at the CSO? Cause I know I saw lil Barenboimy do it too. I feel lucky to have seen Solti at all. He was one vital dude.