The Dallas Symphony Chorus is the star of this weekend’s concerts by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Under the sensitive command of Jaap van Zweden, the chorus gave a lovely, moving performance of Brahms’ German Requiem on Thursday night in the Meyerson Symphony Center.
Unlike Verdi’s Requiem, which thunders operatically in places, Brahms’ is by and large a gentle, introspective work despite a few energetic outbursts.
Van Zweden beautifully established the mood of the Requiem in the very first measures, which began with the quietest of pianissimos in the orchestra and moved on with subtle gradations of dynamics and tempo.
Although the orchestra played commendably and Russell Braun and Laura Aikin had effective vocal solos, it was really the chorus that dominated the evening.
The German Requiem is not a traditional work. The words come out of the Lutheran Bible rather than the Roman Catholic liturgy, and we have it on Brahms’ own testimony that he saw it as a non-parochial work.
The DSO deserves a medal for providing an English translation of the text — and leaving the lights bright enough that it can be read during the performance.
The Requiem will be repeated on Friday and Saturday nights. Since it’s the only work on the program, which dispenses with an intermission, the audience should be out shortly after 9.