About the album
Come, come a bit closer: there he is, sitting in his study. Look over his shoulder – what is he working on so intensely? Why that sorrowful glance in his youthful eyes? First his mother, then his good friend and mentor Robert Schumann, two people very dear to him were no more...
Johannes Brahms is an icon. When you say Johannes, you know it refers to Brahms. The successor to Beethoven, the sober man who took seriousness very seriously, the chief protagonist of the classical tradition, an intimate friend of the Schumanns.
But how well do we really know Brahms? How close does he let us come to him through his music? In search of the man who was Brahms, through his Requiem and the music of his good friend Robert Schumann.
The death of his mother and his mentor Schumann, two people so close to him marked Brahms – but it also led to the creation of one of his finest works.
Bent over his writing desk, full of sorrow over his loss, Brahms wanted to write music that would nevertheless offer some support: hope for those near him, comfort for the living – and not with a sombre funeral march. Initially, he gave his composition the title Ein menschliches Requiem (A Human Requiem). The monumental composition for orchestra and choir that would become Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) lies far from that intimate beginning. But Brahms did not forget his initial plan: he even transcribed a version for piano 4 hands, soloists and choir: transparent, intimate, colourful and, most importantly, very personal.
In search of the man who was Brahms, we weave some childhood memories of his good friend Schumann in between the movements of the Requiem. In his Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood), Schumann in turn combined various short works that were close to his heart and through which he thought back, filled with nostalgia, to his own childhood.
11Kinderszenen IV. Ein bittendes Kind
12Ein deutsches Requiem I. Selig sind, die da Leid Tragen
13Kinderszenen VIII. Am Kamin
14Ein deutsches Requiem II. Denn alles Fleisch, es ist wie Gras
15Kinderszenen XII. Kind im Einschlummern
16Ein deutsches Requiem III. Herr, lehre doch mich
17Kinderszenen XIII. Der Dichter spricht
18Ein deutsches Requiem IV. Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen
19Kinderszenen X. Fast zu ernst
110Ein deutsches Requiem V. Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit
111Kinderszenen I. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen
112Ein deutsches Requiem VI. Denn wir haben hie keine bleibende Statt
113Kinderszenen VII. Träumerei
114Ein deutsches Requiem VII. Selig sind die Toten
"One would think that the illustrious Winterreisen which sounded there (in the Concertgebouw) would burden this performance. But it didn't because this interpertation of Winterreise was played and sung (without scores by the way) so spontanious and above all: so earthly." -Mischa Spel, NR "Thomas Oliemans ...put himself on the map as a Liedsinger to take into account." - Bela Luttmer, Volkskrant