Dvorak’s ‘Stabat Mater’ & Brahms’ ‘Nanie’

A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster.

Conducted by David Murray

The soloists are Katherine Moore (soprano), Sarah Parry (contralto), Christopher Turner (tenor) and Njabulo Madlala (baritone).

 Tickets are £12.00 (£10.00 concessions) in the Nave or £6.00 for the Gallery, with limited view.  Seats are un-numbered and doors open at 6.45 p.m.

 Tickets can now be booked on-line, at a small additional cost, from WeGotTickets at http://www.wegottickets.com/f/1934

 The composing of the cantata ‘Stabat Mater’ was Antonín Dvo?ák’s reaction to the death of his two year old daughter Josepfa.  The work was begun in 1876 and was dedicated to František Hušpauer “ as a souvenir to the friend of his young days”. Dvo?ák was obliged to postpone the orchestration of his work due to other obligations but he returned to the final stylisation in 1877 after two more of his children tragically died within a short space of time, one as the result of accidentally drinking a phosphorus solution and the other to smallpox. It was his first work on a religious theme and there is no doubt that it is both a work of mourning and a work of healing. It was first performed in 1880.

 ‘Nänie’ (the German form of the Latin nenia, meaning a funeral song) is a beautiful piece written in memory of Brahms’  friend, the artist Anselm Feuerbach who died in 1880. It is based on a poem by Schiller dealing with the transience of life. The first sentence, Auch das Schöne muß sterben, translates to “Even the beautiful must die”. The work contains some interesting references very discreetly woven into the fabric. There is the so called Clara Embelm which appeared first in Schumann’s Fantasy Op 17, and the use of it implies that the death of Brahms’ godson, Felix Schumann, may have been a source of inspiration for the work. There is further a thematic connection between Nanie and Ein Deutsch Requiem, suggesting that the Clara Emblem may have been a germinal motive for the Requiem . There is even a reference to the opening of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op 81a, Les Adieux, also called Das Lebewohl (or The Farewell). It is one of the most rarely performed pieces by Brahms mostly due to its difficulty.