Switzerland's oldest orchestra returned to the Usher Hall for the second time this Festival with an admirable rendition of Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem.
Under American David Zinman's secure leadership, the orchestra provided excellent support for the Festival Chorus and displayed ample capability in orchestral passages, with its sumptuous strings and delicate phrase endings. The Chorus was splendid, achieving noticeable contrasts between a hushed timbre and tremendous anger. However, its sound was often muffled and sometimes impure in the higher registers.
The concert showcased the wonderful talents of Austrian baritone Florian Boesch and Swiss-born soprano Rachel Harnisch. Both wowed the audience with impressive solos, especially Harnisch, who, with only one chance to shine, did so to her full extent. Although her voice took a while to settle, she delivered an elegant, poised rendition of Brahms's exquisite soprano melody, evoking perfectly the tenderness of a mother's love.
Zinman ensured close collaboration between orchestra, chorus and soloists, achieving a tight ensemble. He expertly emphasised both the joy and the powerful anger in this Requiem.
Had Brahms still been alive, he would have been complimented that the Tonhalle Orchestra continues to play his Requiem, having been first to play its fifth movement in 1868. They did the completed work credit.
Isla Ratcliff is a pupil at Broughton High School and this review was submitted as part of the Herald Young Critics project with the Edinburgh International Festival