David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra's rendition of Brahms' Requiem was utterly fantastic. They filled the hall with the work's mournful and sombre atmosphere with absolute sensitivity. This was made clear to the audience in the opening introduction of the first movement. The chorus' delivery of their first line, "Selig sind" encapsulated the audience and was conveyed with an incredible degree of emotion and finesse. The appearance of the baritone, Florian Boesch, and soprano, Rachel Harnisch, really stood out; every note sung by these incredible soloists enthralled the audience.
The delivery of the second movement stood out. "All flesh is as grass… the grass withers" - this beautiful line was depicted brilliantly by the Tonhalle orchestra. They conveyed the vitality and the vibrance of the grass in the light, soft, major passages and contrasted this beautifully with the sombre nature of the minor. Overall, this concert was a great success.
I was enlightened by the atmosphere in the Usher Hall as the Tonhalle Orchestra performed Brahms' Requiem. David Zinmans's conducting was inspiring as he was so genuine in his all to lead the Requiem. The soprano soloist Rachel Harnisch was fantastic at delivering her segment of the piece, and confident especially as she had to sit on stage and let the nervousness build in climax towards her solo.
The choir was of free spirit considering that they had a smile on their faces throughout the whole performance with Christopher Bell (being the choir master) keeping them parallel to the orchestra which was a great success. The dynamic range within the orchestra was close to flawless as it took me through a cycle of emotions with each musical expression being expressed to the uppermost. The Usher Hall was the perfect venue and the applause was tremendous which pleased the Tonhalle Orchestra.
With a low solemn murmur from the Tonhalle Orchestra, the Requiem began. Quickly joined by the chorus, the two combined to create a dark, delicate rendition of Brahms's first movement. Throughout the performance the chorus was presented as a strong stable unit and at the Requiem's most climatic moments they succeeded in filling the Usher Hall to the roof.
During the third movement we were introduced to baritone soloist Florian Boesch whose tone perfectly complemented the balance that had already been established between the chorus and the orchestra. However the performance undoubtedly came into its own as soprano soloist Rachel Harnisch rose to her feet to greet the fifth movement. Through her emotive contribution to the work we really saw Brahms's Requiem come to life. Her subtle yet powerful performance reflected the sentimental words of the Requiem, which in this particular movement portray the comfort of a mother's love.
The music then returned to the darkness of the opening where the chorus and the timpani combined for an impressive display of strength. To round-off the performance the Requiem concluded in circular motion finishing in a dramatic flourish and a succession of applause. This was truly an impressive performance which paid great respect to the work's sentiment.
Under David Zinman's baton, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich and the EIF chorus joined forces last night to perform what was on the whole an enjoyable account of Brahms' German Requiem. The Usher hall was jampacked, hot and stuffy, and this paired with dark and sonorous tones made for an intense and somewhat dreamy night of music.
After a pensive orchestral introduction the addition of the choir brought with it some phrasing which felt a little muddy and indistinct. Nevertheless this was an emotive opening: soft arpeggios on harp interlacing with choral lines and passages of full orchestral power giving way to just a low rumble of bass.
Perhaps the highlight of the performance was during the second movement, "Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras", when, after a slow-building crescendo powered by timpani, the whole ensemble let loose a crashing, powerful and climactic blend of orchestra and voice. A five out of five on the shiver scale and definitely one of the most moving parts of this performance.
The steady beat and march-like feel of the sixth movement was also well controlled and provided a contrasting rhythmical section which I found to be one of the more enjoyable movements.
Overall this was a meaningful performance; dark, solemn and yet strangely refreshing. It captured fragments of hope and joy over the underlying theme of tragedy of death and soloists Florian Boesch and Rachel Harnisch both proved to be weighty performers who enhanced what was already an exciting, satisfying performance.
The throbbing note in the bass started the concert, with a sound that made us certain the Brahms German Requiem was alive. Beautiful melodies swept through the strings, and straight into the entrance of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, who performed with the orchestra as one, with a great sense of connection to each other. The Usher Hall acoustic welcomed this wonderful music created by conductor David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra, bringing it to our ears to create a special start to the evening.
In the following movements, the performers displayed character and variety: in the second, power from the timpani and huge sound from the choir contrasted with beautiful, well balanced harmonies from the orchestra. The fourth was punchy, but also very smooth when required. However, the most notable and most exciting contrast was in the performances of the soloists. Baritone Florian Boesch's start was stylish; he captured our attention and held it with flair and confidence. Soprano Rachel Harnisch crept in with her solo of long quiet notes and projected them right to the back of the hall as she allowed each of them to grow and flourish in a passionate manner appropriate to the music.
The final movement was slightly tired, and had some wobbly corners. Still, it did its job of concluding the work and comforting us in saying that we may rest, to end a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
One piece, one half, for one night only the Brahms requiem. When the Usher hall had filled up with audience members and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the lights had dimmed, the Tonhalle Orchestra entered the stage and after tuning, under the direction of their charismatic first violinist, they began their performance of Brahms's Requiem.
The piece started with beautifully tender music from the strings. It was a magical moment, when the Edinburgh festival chorus sang their firsts notes of Brahms's German Requiem. The rest of the concert continued in much the same vain, with orchestral melodies masterfully phrased by the conductor David Zinman, angelic choral passages and dynamic climaxes.
The sopranos intensely emotional voice was reflected by her facial expressions and the baritones was suitably powerful. When the concert was brought to its poignant close, I was surprised to find myself almost thinking that eighty minutes wasn't long enough.
Indeed the internationally acclaimed Tonhalle Orchestra did not fail to disappoint upon delivering a truly refined and flawless rendition of Brahms' longest composition, a German Requiem. With each movement performed with such unity, the twenty years David Zinman has dedicated to working within this orchestra is inconsolable.
Alongside these international musicians were the Edinburgh Festival Chorus directed by Christopher Bell and accompanied by John Cameron and Stuart Hope. With such harmonious fugal textures, this delightful performance undoubtedly captured the positive charm of this work.
Divided into seven sections, Brahms included two soloists with the first appearing in the third section. Assuming this role was Austrian born Florian Boesch - baritone - whose bold presence consumed the listener and certainly portrayed the dramatic contrast in themes.
Furthermore contrast is made upon the opening of the fifth section where Swiss-born soloist Rachel Harnisch -soprano - captivated the audience with vocals of such passion and intimacy. Complimented by the elegance of the orchestra's countermelodies, this section depicted a truly beautiful scene.
With a brisk entrance from the choir, a stately arrival from the conductor and a mighty applause from the audience that lasted until the last bassist entered, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich combined with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus were ready. I sat in anticipation for what Edinburgh's International Festival had to offer.
From the first notes of the orchestra I was already captivated. Low piercing notes from the strings followed by dark and mysterious timpani hits made the first movement come to life. After a shuffle and a cough, conductor David Zinman took control of the orchestra and made the second movement flourish with ebb and flows of fast orchestral passages and slow delicate melodies from the chorus that left me in awe.
On to the third movement and Brahms introduces the baritone soloist, Florian Boesch. His entrance was soft and he seemed to care for each note greatly but I couldn't help but want more. It was as if Boesch thought it was the dress rehearsal and he wasn't singing his grandest. In the fifth movement entered the soprano, Rachel Harnisch. Her performance was truly transfixing. She dazzled the audience with beautiful sad songs filled with emotion.
After a righteous flurry of orchestral passages and choral harmonies followed by gorgeous resolves and harmonies, the piece finished. With a roaring applause the soloists along with the conductor and chorus master came out and reveled in the cheers from the mesmerised audience.
When approached with the word Requiem two words spring to mind, long and mournful. however the Brahms Requiem, although still mellow and forlorn at parts, is relatively short and focuses more on overcoming death than just singing about it. This, of course, would not be possible without a very convincing performance which, to say the least, it was.
Perhaps the most fascinating and impressive point for me was the way in which the dialogue between orchestra and choir was put across; all the transitions were fluid and moving (especially in the second movement) which in part created a nice dynamic and gave the whole performance a certain edge. Although overwhelming at parts, the choir were pretty much flawless, the only critique I have is that at the first to second movements the tenor and alto parts seemed weak, however this can be overlooked by their dynamic range as a choir.
The second section, which resembles a sarabande (slow dance in three time), has the most incredible build or crescendo. I, for one, was left in complete awe and amazement at the edge of my seat. Together with the pounding timpani and mass of voices an incredible effect was formed. The massive sound seemed to fill every nook and cranny of the Usher Hall!
The baritone soloist of this piece, Florian Boesch can add another great performance to his already exceedingly long list of prestigious performances. His voice seemed to almost challenge the huge choir! the power of his singing leaves the listener in awe and wondrous bedevilment. On the contrary, Rachel Harnisch (soprano) from Switzerland made her only appearance in the fifth movement. Personally, I thought her voice was rather generic but soon I was taken aback by her beautifully ranged vibrato. This movement is to resemble exquisite beauty and poignancy, and you can rest assured this exactly how it was performed.
I suppose the highlight of the concert for me was the fourth movement. Credit should go to the timpani player he kept a very definite pulse, whether literal or implied the sense of a beat was included throughout the whole movement. Of course a lot of these performance quirks would not be possible without the conducted, David Zinman. He obviously has an incredibly good at creating a tense and exciting atmosphere. It is seldom see a conductor who doesn't intrude in the performance.
There was a certain buzz about the packed usher hall that night. The atmosphere was magic as the audience waited for David Zinman and soloists Florian Boesch and Rachel Harnisch, the Tonhalle orchestra Zurich and the Edinburgh Festival chorus to set the stage.
Brahms's one hour and twenty-five minute requiem opened up on a rather sombre note. This was kept alive by the majestic orchestral harps and their occasional chords and flurries. However, the tense atmosphere was somewhat lost during part two and I think the chorus could have done with a little more direction in the phrases.
Florian Boesch stepped up to contrast the rest of the Requiem so far. His low, articulated voice conveyed very powerful messages. After a lively part four with orchestra and chorus, the soprano, Rachel Harnisch, stunned the audience with her dark but beautiful singing. The sublime vibrato and the sheer delicacy of every note sent shivers down my spine.
The bouncy vibes of part six set Florian up for his next solo. The chorus did a great job of engaging with the audience. Further into part six the audience got these big crescendos in the chorus, followed by immediate silences which were excellent and well-rehearsed. The last two parts went by in a flash of rolling strings in octaves and some shaky tuning from the wind and brass. The Requiem ended brilliantly and it was great to have the orchestral harps come in again.