Performing a work as complex and deeply felt as Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem” is a major challenge, especially when the instrumental and vocal forces can combine for only a single rehearsal led by a conductor making his Chautauqua debut.
Yet those assembled forces brought it to vivid life. Having heard the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus in Kleinhans Music Hall, there was little doubt about their prowess, especially in a work at the heart of their choral repertory. Baritone Tyler Duncan was also making his Chautauqua debut, with soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme a welcomed return guest.
Conductor Robert Duerr, a North Tonawanda native, minister, organist and founder of the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra, had led the chorus, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, last April. His extensive operatic assignments at the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera have enriched him with a special sense of drama — an attribute that afforded Brahms’ work the special propulsion it requires.