He once quipped “A symphony is no joke.” And, as the third “B” in the classical music triumvirate of “Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms,” Johannes Brahms has indeed become most famous for his lush orchestral scores. Brahms was equally masterful, however, as a composer for the voice, as the Pasadena Master Chorale (PMC) will reveal when it presents “Brahms Unbound – a cappella music by the master” on Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Altadena Community Church in Altadena.

“Brahms worked with choirs for much of his life,” explains Artistic Director Jeffrey Bernstein. “And I feel that Brahms is most at home with the choir. There’s a quality to his vocal writing that makes it irresistible – his gift for melody, his intimate knowledge of the choir and how voices work in combination, and the sheer expression of the sound of human voices.”

The program will alternate large sacred works – such as the famous motets Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz, O Heiland reiß die Himmel auf, and Warum ist daß Licht gegeben? – with two sets of songs, op. 42 and op. 104. The pieces are scored for many different combinations of voices in four, five, six, and eight parts.

“Brahms never wrote an opera,” Bernstein notes. “But his songs are in every serious classical singer’s repertoire. The works we will perform bear his stamp unmistakably. They’re lush and intricate, driving and reflective and, ultimately, incredibly satisfying.”

Adding to the audience’s satisfaction are the acoustics of the Altadena Community Church. “To hear a cappella music in this beautiful, reverberant space will be an immersive and captivating experience,” says Bernstein. “How fortunate we are that Brahms’ oeuvre of choral music spans nearly his entire career.”

Once again, tickets will be available on a “Listen First, Then Give” basis. Music lovers can reserve a ticket at no cost and then decide, after the performance, whether they’d like to make a donation.

Reservations may be made online at pmcBrahms2017.eventbrite.com.

The Altadena Community Church is located at 943 East Altadena Drive in Altadena.

For more information about the Pasadena Master Chorale, visit www.pasadenamasterchorale.org or call (626) 208-0009.

The mission of the Pasadena Master Chorale is to cultivate appreciation of classical choral music through high quality performance and education.