Oratorio Society Of New York Performs U.S. Premiere Of New Critical Edition Of Brahms 'A German Requiem'

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Oratorio Society Of New York Performs U.S. Premiere Of New Critical Edition Of Brahms 'A German Requiem'

On Monday, March 2, 2020, at Carnegie Hall, the Oratorio Society of New York performs the U.S. premiere of a new critical edition of one of the masterpieces of choral music, Brahms's A German Requiem (Ein deutsches Requiem) - a work that the organization gave its very first U.S. performance, more than 140 years ago. OSNY Music Director Kent Tritle conducts, and the featured soloists are Susanna Phillips, soprano, and Takaoki Onishi, baritone.

A German Requiem (Ein deutsches Requiem), completed in 1868, was inspired by the deaths of Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms's own mother. Rather than using the Latin Mass for the Dead, Brahms, who referred to this as a "human requiem," drew his libretto from Luther's translation of the Bible and the Apocrypha. It offers consolation for the living rather than prayers for the dead. In 2017, James Oestreich wrote in The New York Times that the work "has become something of an anthem for our time, with grand social and political reverberations."

The new critical edition being given its U.S. premiere performance on this program is by an international team led by the noted scholars Michael Musgrave and Michael Struck. Michael Musgrave is the author of, among other books, The Music of Brahms and Brahms: A German Requiem. The new edition is being published by G. Henle Verlag in collaboration with Breitkopf & Härtel. It is part of the new collected works of Brahms published by G. Henle Verlag.

"Brahms authorities Michael Musgrave and Michael Struck have restored Brahms's original intentions for his choral masterpiece, letting the work shine with new light," said Dr. Norbert Gertsch of G. Henle Verlag.

"The new critical edition will correct layers of historic errors that have crept into the performing editions in the last 150 years," writes Michael Musgrave. "Thus the score is restored to Brahms's final intentions for the work based on the best available scholarly judgments, which include the examination of letters, manuscripts, first editions, and scores Brahms personally annotated. The choral writing remains largely unchanged, but there are changes to details of the orchestration."

Kent Tritle observes, "There are some amendments to crescendi and diminuendi for the chorus, correcting misinterpretations that had to do with orientation of spacing on the original printing plates. We look forward to restoring these in our performance. Of course, as ever, there will also be some interpretive elements from my own imagination, but the print from Brahms will receive priority!"

When the OSNY performed the U.S. premiere of the work in 1877 - in its fourth season - it was the first premiere the fledgling group had presented; it was joined on the program by a Bach cantata and an excerpt from Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice.

The Oratorio Society's Carnegie Hall season concludes with the world premiere of an OSNY commission:

· A Nation of Others by Paul Moravec & Mark Campbell, World Premiere of an OSNY Commission - Wednesday, May 6, 2020, at Carnegie Hall - The world premiere of A Nation of Others, a new oratorio for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass soloists, chorus, and orchestra by composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell about immigrants' arrival at Ellis Island, headlines this program, that also features Robert Paterson's 2016 work for soprano and baritone soloists, chorus, and orchestra, Whitman's America, settings of poems from Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The Moravec/Campbell work is an OSNY commission, as was the pair's 2018 oratorio Sanctuary Road (see below). The program's soloists are Jennifer Zetlan and Maeve Höglund, sopranos; Raehann Bryce-Davis, mezzo-soprano; Isaiah Bell, tenor; Steven Eddy, baritone; and Joseph Beutel, bass-baritone.

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