Saturday 16 April 2016

Fam'd German Masters: Bach motets and Strauss's Deutsche Motette in Pimlico

German masters - Cantus Ensemble
Richard Strauss's fearsome Deutsche Motette is the centrepiece for a concert on Saturday 16 April by the Cantus Ensemble, conductor Dominic Brennan, at St Gabriel's Church, Pimlico. The concert also includes Bach motets and cellist Thomas Wraith performing Bach’s Suite for Cello in D Minor. But it is Strauss's Deutsche Motette which catches the eye and ear, partly because of its sheer complexity, and for the piece the choir will be joined by soloists Rebecca Hardwick, Emma Lewis, Peter Davoren and Alistair Ollerenshaw.

Strauss's setting of Rückert was completed in June 1913, after Der Rosenkavalier and Ariadne auf Naxos and before the Alpine Symphony. So it is Strauss at the height of his powers. It is written for 16-part choir plus four main soloists (and an extra three at one point). The range extends from a bottom B flat in the fourth bass to a top D flat in the soprano part. The four main solo parts are very taxing, with the soprano and tenor placed in a very high tessitura. The piece was dedicated to Professor Hugo Riedel and his choir, the Hoftheater Chor. Riedel later went on to be chorus master at Bayreuth.

Dominic Brennan founded the Cantus Ensemble in 2011 and the choir draws its membership primarily from recent university choral scholars and music graduates. Full information from the Cantus Ensemble website.

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