“Johannes Brahms II” Gives Delightful Overview of Romantic Music

World of Johannes Brahm II

Boston College’s Gasson 100 again played host to a rollicking Friday night concert—“The World of Johannes Brahms II,” the second event in the Brahms series. The crowd was plentiful, though the evening remained a quiet affair due to the ambiance of Gasson 100. The performances on that night were made up of students. Many of them belonged to other, similarly styled groups, such as the BC Symphony Orchestra. There were a variety of instruments on display at the performance, including multiple vocals, as well as violin, piano, viola, cello, and clarinet. At first, the clarinet seemed slightly out of place in this group of instruments, but it performed its part admirably, and was a welcome addition to the more traditional ensemble on display. The parts often worked individually, or in smaller groups, but each of their performances was excellent.

Going along with the theme of chamber music, this concert exposed the audience to a wide variety of Brahms’ works. Before the concert began, there was a fairly robust explanation of all the pieces, with links to Brahms’s life and what he was experienced. The concert’s leaders presented background of the composition of each work, giving the audience some context and kept them engaged in what they were listening. There were also translations of the vocal parts being sang, which added another layer to the engagement of the audience, as they actually knew what the performers were singing about.

The event featured a full 11 performances, a nice selection that showed many of the different types of works that this towering figure of Romantic music composed. The pieces were also arranged in a pleasing fashion, as the programmer made sure to mix up the delivery of the pieces. Stage presence was subtle, but still there, in an appropriate amount. All of the performers were totally engaged in what they were playing, and it showed, both in their bodily actions and the sounds that were coming out of their instruments and voices.

The dynamics were excellent in these group performances, with no one instrument overpowering the other, and all balancing out wonderfully. The voices were top notch as well. It was particularly exceptional, as none of the singers used a lyrics sheet for the performance, instead choosing to memorize the long lines of a different language. All of the singers carried themselves well, with appropriate body language and a good connection to the accompanying pianist in yet another stellar rendition of Brahms’ work.

Featured Image by Sam Zhai