For our next ‘Come and Sing’ workshop on 23 September, we shall be exploring outstanding examples of German Romantic choral music. The repertoire is vast, but some individual works stand out as having a particular resonance.
Brahms wrote many a capella pieces both sacred and secular, but the Fest- und Gedenksprüche (Opus 109) are unusual in their homage to the Venetian style of Schütz and Gabrieli. The three motets were written for a ceremony when Brahms was made a Freeman of Hamburg and all are for two choirs which sing antiphonally for much of the time. The harmony is much less chromatic than his usual style, but the motets are sonorous and deeply satisfying to perform.
We have coupled these motets with the very late-romantic Friede auf Erden, a passionate vision of universal peace written by Schoenberg in 1907 when the composer had converted to Christianity. Though in the 1920s he described the piece as an “illusion” and later, in the aftermath of the Holocaust, rejected it altogether along with Christianity, its constant return to the joyful key of D major reinforces the concept of peace, while the chromaticism and nervous energy of the music looks toward his future atonalism.
Friede auf Erden has been a significant piece for the Joyful Company and we have given some memorable performances, but it remains one of the most difficult pieces to return to. The workshop promises to be a day of challenge and pleasure – do join us!
For more details about the workshop, visit our Performances page