Monteverdi Choir appears with Concertgebouw Orchestra in Brahms’ ‘Ein deutsches Requiem’

Prom 64: Berlioz’s The Trojans (concert performance; sung in French with English surtitles) Monteverdi Choir, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique
Dinis Sousa conductor © Andy Paradise

Brahms’ most ambitious piece of vocal music, Ein deutsches Requiem, Op 45 (A German Requiem), is to be presented by the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Monteverdi Choir, led by the Choir’s Associate Conductor, Dinis Sousa. The soloists are Dutch soprano Lenneke Ruiten and German baritone Christian Gerhaher.

Brahms completed this work in 1866, two movements of which he had begun prior to 1861 in memory of his friend and colleague Robert Schumann who had died in 1856. Four additional movements were completed by summer 1866, and together with subsequent revisions, the final total of movements was seven.

The Concertgebouw Orchestra © Simon Van Boxtel

Brahms approached his Requiem from a different angle to the Roman Catholic mass for the dead. Instead, he created a Protestant work in German, using Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible, and taking passages from both the Old and the New Testament which would not only mourn the dead, but create solace for those left behind. He referred to it as a “requiem for humanity”, focussing on the comfort of God and the afterlife. Four of the seven movements are set for chorus and orchestra, with three for vocal soloists. The most well-known, and beautiful, movement – which comes mid-way through the work – takes the text of Psalm 84, “Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen” (“How lovely are your dwelling places”).

Ein deutsches Requiem premiered in its initial form in Vienna on December 1st, 1867, and the revised version was first heard in Leipzig, Germany on February 18th, 1869.

Dinis Sousa, who makes his debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, is the Associate Conductor of the three Monteverdi ensembles – the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique – the first-ever conductor of all three in the history of the Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras. He co-conducted the Monteverdi Choir’s highly acclaimed performance at the 2016 BBC Proms of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette which was televised on BBC4.

Handel – L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato – St Martin-in-the-Fields
Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists
Dinis Sousa – conductor © Paul Marc Mitchell

The Choir, regarded as a leading force in the world of choral music, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. It was recently named the world’s best choir at the Oper! Awards, and has in recent years undertaken very successful tours of Europe and North America. In May 2023, the Choir and the English Baroque Soloists performed at the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla. The Daily Telegraph subsequently wrote: “If the Monteverdi Choir isn’t singing when I get to the gates of Heaven, I want my money back.”

Soprano Lenneke Ruiten makes her debut with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in this performance of Ein deutsches Requiem. According to, she “… possesses formidable technique and a bell-like soprano ….” and performs on some of the greatest stages of the world. Described by as “a sensation”, she has an impressive career internationally in opera, concert performances and Lieder recitals.

Baritone Christian Gerhaher, together with Gerold Huber, is regularly heard at major international recital centres, such as concert halls in New York, the Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, the Philharmonic Orchestras of Cologne, Luxembourg and Berlin, the Cité de la musique in Paris, the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, the Teatro della Zarzuela in Madrid, La Scala Milan and the Wigmore Hall in London. They hold a class in lied interpretation at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre, and occasionally teach at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

The programme opens with two songs, Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben by Heinrich Schütz – of whom Brahms was a great admirer – and Der Gerechte, ob er gleich zu zeitlich stirbt by Johann Christoph Bach – a distant relative of Johann Sebastian. Both works were said to have inspired Brahms in their lyrics and treatment of text.

Dinis Sousa leads the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Monteverdi Choir and soloists in Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, on February 29th, and March 1st and 3rd, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Further information and details of ticketing are available on the Concertgebouw Orchestra website.

Information sourced from:

Concertgebouw programme notes


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