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An Honest Music of Lamentation and Indictment: Press Reaction to Firsova's Requiem

The Berlin Radio Choir with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra performed the German premiere of Elena Firsova's Requiem for soprano, choir and orchestra to texts of Anna Akhmatova, Op. 100 on 6 September 2003. The RSO Berlin was directed by Vassily Sinaiski and the soloist was Claudia Barainsky (soprano). The press reacted enthusiastically to the concert event. Liesel Markowsky wrote the following in the daily journal Neues Deutschland on 9 September 2003:

"(...) In Firsova's musical language, the Requiem became an intimate monument to past terrors and a message of warning in our present time. The intense performance of the one-hour work in the original language brought this movingly close: the Requiem is for the most part tender and soft, but not without forte outbursts. Lamentation and desperation grow as if out of momentary memory. Archaically declamatory choral singing in whirring blocks of sound, finely shaded, often chamber-music-like orchestral playing and lyrically expressive solo voices allow stations of suffering to penetratingly appear. For example, terse choral sections in 'Leningrad' (home city and place of persecution), in the sections 'Mourning' and 'Hope,' the fragile soprano solo in 'The Poplar' (the only living witness to the gruesome events in the jail yard), the bitingly grotesque 'Yellow Moon' and, mounting with increasing radiance up until 'Verdict' and 'Scream,' where brutal instrumental noise reaches its peak together with calling and whispering choral voices. The lament 'To Death' is devastating; this is a dirge performed with wonderful soprano lyricism by Claudia Barainsky. She captivated the audience in all the sections of her dominating, difficult part, up until the extended 'Epilogue,' the commemoration's concluding warning in which she sings the last, soft words, dissonantly grounded by the choir and orchestra. This was an altogether astonishing achievement for this remarkable work on the part of all the interpreters - an honest music of lamentation and indictment."