FIVE SONGS (LIEDER) FOR LOW VOICE, OP. 105
Jessye Norman, soprano (Nos. 1-3); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [449 633-2

Published 1889.

The fifteen songs published in three sets of five, Opp. 105, 106, and 107, are the last “standard” Lieder by Brahms.  Only the Vier ernste Gesänge to biblical texts, among his very last utterances, would follow.  These songs are utterly gratifying for performers and listeners, displaying the supreme mastery of someone who had spent more than thirty years perfecting the craft of text setting.  While several song groups rival the Op. 105 set in greatness (most notably Op. 96 among the later Lieder), it is difficult to find one more unified in theme, more carefully planned in structure and form.  This is not immediately apparent because complete performance almost requires two singers.  No. 2 is in an explicitly feminine voice, while No. 5 is not only explicitly masculine, but one of only two songs outside the Vier ernste Gesänge where Brahms notated the vocal part in the bass clef.  Like Op. 86 and Op. 94, the set is specified for low voice in the original keys, but of course high key editions have been published.  The opening song, one of his most familiar and melodious, functions as an introduction to the themes of the remaining four.  Groth’s highly abstract lines about the fusion of word and melody are rendered comprehensible by Brahms’s flowing setting, with its varied closing for each strophe.  The four songs that follow seem to present “feminine” and “masculine” viewpoints on the alternating themes of “death” and romantic “betrayal.”  The image of the dying girl addressing her beloved in No. 2 is easily one of the most masterful unions of words and music, in direct response to the sentiments of No. 1.  No. 3 is a simple strophic folk setting, but one in which the musical expression within the verse is deftly tailored to fit all the texts.  The profound No. 4, with its quotation of the chorale melody associated with Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and musing on death, clearly anticipates the mood of the Vier ernste Gesänge.  Finally, No. 5, though set to a less than exalted text by a minor poet Brahms oddly favored, is a great dramatic song by any standard, an awesome vehicle for baritone and bass singers, and a extremely effective culmination for the set.  A narrative ballad yields to a middle section more like an actual staged scene, with the memorable climactic murder of the jealous narrator’s rival.

Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily Ezust’s site at http://www.lieder.net.  For the most part, the translations are line-by-line, except where the difference between German and English syntax requires slight alterations to the contents of certain lines.  The German texts (included here) are also visible in the translation links.

IMSLP WORK PAGE

ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck--original key edition and higher key editionHigher keys of Nos. 2-4 match Peters high-key edition.  The D-flat key given here for No. 1 was not included in Peters.)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke--original keys--includes front matter of Sämtliche Werke, v. 26)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max Friedländer):
No. 1: Wie Melodien zieht es mir (in original key, A major)
No. 1: Wie Melodien zieht es mir (in high key, C major)
No. 1: Wie Melodien zieht es mir (in middle key, B-flat major)
No. 2: Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer (in original key, C-sharp minor)
No. 2: Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer (in high key, F minor)
No. 2: Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer (in middle key, D minor)
No. 3: Klage (in original key, F major)
No. 3: Klage (in high key, B-flat major)
No. 4: Auf dem Kirchhofe (in original key, C minor)
No. 4:
Auf dem Kirchhofe (in high key, E minor)
No. 4: Auf dem Kirchhofe (in middle key, D minor)
No. 5: Verrat (in original key, B minor)
No. 5: Verrat (in high key, E-flat minor)


1. Wie Melodien zieht es mir (It Moves Like Melodies).  Text by Klaus Groth.  Zart (Tenderly).  Modified strophic form.  A MAJOR, Cut time [2/2] (High key C major [Peters] or D-flat major [Simrock], middle key B-flat major).


German Text:
Wie Melodien zieht es
Mir leise durch den Sinn,
Wie Frühlingsblumen blüht es,
Und schwebt wie Duft dahin.

Doch kommt das Wort und faßt es
Und führt es vor das Aug’,
Wie Nebelgrau erblaßt es
Und schwindet wie ein Hauch.

Und dennoch ruht im Reime
Verborgen wohl ein Duft,
Den mild aus stillem Keime
Ein feuchtes Auge ruft.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (Strophe) 1.  The piano bass provides the downbeat, and the voice enters immediately with the soaring, arching line that will begin each of the three verses.  The piano establishes a continuous pattern of sempre dolce arpeggios, arching, then rising.  The second line makes a brief harmonic detour to B-flat as the piano arpeggios add subtle harmonies to the top notes.  The vocal line introduces a long-short rhythm that will become pervasive.  The piano becomes less active under the third line, moving to alternations and broken octaves, then reactivates for the fourth, as the voice and piano both settle on the “dominant” harmony, with the voice doubled and harmonized by the right hand.
0:24 [m. 9]--As the voice completes the line, the piano begins a descending sequence of mildly chromatic syncopated thirds in the right hand that will appear in all the verses, regardless of the harmonic context.  The left hand also adds mild syncopation in its arching arpeggios.  This sequence creates a bridge of almost two measures leading to a repetition of the last line with a more complete closure in the “dominant” E major.  The piano then has another bridge in which its arpeggios quickly move back to the home key.
0:39 [m. 14]--Stanza (Strophe) 2.  The opening piano downbeat flows from the previous bridge, but after that, the setting of the first two lines closely matches that of stanza 1.  Leading into the third line, the piano figures are subtly reversed between the hands.  The setting of the line itself is also artfully, almost imperceptibly changed.  This prepares for the new setting of the fourth line, which avoids the previous upward leap and descent, also avoiding the “dominant” harmony, instead moving toward D major, the “subdominant” key.  The more subdued setting matches the “disappearing breath” of the text.
1:02 [m. 22]--In the new harmonic environment, the syncopated thirds and arpeggios appear as before to bridge into the repetition of the last line.  This time, the repetition itself makes a further harmonic detour, moving toward a full cadence in F-sharp minor, the “relative” minor key.  Under the repetition, the piano accompaniment still doubles the voice, but now the right-hand entries are delayed until after the beat, and the left hand is more active, adding wide leaps.
1:11 [m. 25]--The bridge to the third stanza is extended by a full measure.  After the cadence in F-sharp minor, the piano slides the note F-sharp down to F, moving back to a harmony on D, but the note F makes it D minor instead of D major.  At the last moment, minor changes back to major, and a “plagal” cadence leads back to the home key, a very different approach than the lead-in to the second stanza.
1:21 [m. 28]--Stanza (Strophe) 3.  This time the first three lines all match the setting of stanza 1, but the striking surprise comes with the fourth line.  Already in the previous bridge, Brahms had shifted the note F-sharp down to F.  Here he does it again, but now the goal is F major, the most significant harmonic detour from the home key.  As in the second stanza, the vocal line avoids the leap and descent.  The piano has leaping octaves in the left hand that also have a half-step shift with the motion to F.
1:45 [m. 36]--The syncopated thirds and arpeggios appear as expected, but now the third line is repeated as well as the fourth.  The syncopated figures are extended under the repetition of the third line, which moves steadily downward and shifts smoothly from F to B-flat.  The voice pauses briefly after this line.  The harmony seems forcefully willed back home to A major under the repetition of the last line as B-flat leads very quickly to the preparatory “dominant” harmony.  This occurs under the words “ein feuchtes,” which are given an extra repetition to a leap and descent in straight notes, avoiding the long-short rhythm.  This marks the arrival of A major.  The final descent on “Auge ruft” uses longer notes to emphasize the cadence.
2:08 [m. 43]--Piano postlude.  As the warm and satisfying final vocal descent is concluded, the piano arpeggios rise, then emerge into a series of three four-note descents that begin on weak beats, creating a mild cross-rhythm.  The first and third of these overlap bar lines.  The cross-rhythms are marked by rolled figures in the left hand.  After the last of these, with the right hand having descended into the middle range, the sense of meter is restored.  Unlike the final vocal cadence, that of the piano is a “plagal” cadence nearly identical to the one that led into the third stanza.  It slows down leading into the closing rolled chord. 
2:32--END OF SONG [46 mm.]



2. Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer (My Slumber Grows Ever More Peaceful).  Text by Hermann von Lingg.  Langsam und leise (Slowly and quietly).  Modified strophic form.  C-SHARP MINOR (ending in D-FLAT MAJOR), Cut time [2/2], with two measures of 3/2 (High key F minor, middle key D minor).

German Text:
Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer,
Nur wie Schleier liegt mein Kummer
  Zitternd über mir.
Oft im Traume hör’ ich dich
Rufen drauß vor meiner Tür:
Niemand wacht und öffnet dir,
  Ich erwach’ und weine bitterlich.

Ja, ich werde sterben müssen,
Eine Andre wirst du küssen,
  Wenn ich bleich und kalt.
Eh’ die Maienlüfte wehn,
Eh’ die Drossel singt im Wald:
Willst du mich noch einmal sehn,
  Komm, o komme bald!

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1, lines 1-3.  On a half-measure, with no introduction, the dying narrator begins to sing.  The opening figure, turning below and then above a central note in long-short rhythm, is the main musical argument.  The right hand of the piano doubles and harmonizes the voice while the left hand plays constant upward leaps beginning off the beat, mostly octaves but also fifths and sixths, some dissonant.  The first line is a closed cadence.  The piano bridges to the second with the same long-short rhythm.  It is set higher, and leads directly into the short third line, which works downward.  After pausing again, the singer repeats “über mir” in longer notes ending in a full cadence.  A left-hand arpeggio leads into the next lines.
0:43 [m. 10]--Stanza 1, lines 4-5.  The piano left hand has broken its pattern under the cadence and now emerges into a series of arpeggios that turn downward at the top.  This is the accompaniment pattern for these next two lines, with the right hand echoing the cadence.  The two lines are somewhat brighter, moving to the “relative” major key over the warm arpeggios.  After the fifth line, the last arpeggio bridges into a new syncopated accompaniment in the right hand.
1:01 [m. 15]--Stanza 1, lines 6-7.  Off-beat pulses begin in the right hand, first in thirds, then full chords.  The singer tries to rise, then breaks off, the piano arpeggio moving from E major to G major.  She tries again on the next words, beginning a step lower, the key moving now to F major.  With the third attempt on the last line, another step lower, she finally succeeds in rising higher, the key now E minor.  Having reached a high point of pitch and volume on “weine,” she quickly descends and diminishes on “bitterlich.”  Those words, “weine bitterlich,” are repeated, trailing off in longer notes, prolonged by two inserted measures of 3/2 meter.  The key slides from E minor to E major and then back home to C-sharp minor with an arpeggio.
1:47 [m. 25]--Stanza 2, line 1.  The last beat of the second 3/2 measure serves as the upbeat (previously a half-measure) to begin the second stanza with the same music that began the first.  The music previously used for the first line of stanza 1, however, is given by the piano alone, without the singer, who is gathering her strength after the collapse.  She then enters to sing the first line of stanza 2 to the music previously used for the second line of stanza 1, an artful “shift” that allows the composer to set the next line to new music within the basic strophe.  The piano bridge even continues with music from the original third line.
2:10 [m. 31]--Stanza 2, lines 2-3.  These lines are set to new music, but there are still some similarities to what has gone before.  The second line has the same basic descent heard at the beginning of the song, but it reaches lower, leading into the ending note from below.  The piano echoes this in a continuation as the singer pauses.  The new third line stays low, leaping, then trailing.  As with the third line in the first stanza, words are repeated leading to a cadence, in this case the desolate “bleich und kalt.”  The vocal line dips to the singer’s lowest pitch.  But now after the new music comes the familiar left-hand arpeggio for lines 4-5.
2:41 [m. 37]--Stanza 2, lines 4-5.  The arpeggios lead back into the music from 0:43 [m. 10], with the motion to the “relative” major key.  There is only a very slight adjustment to the piano part under the fifth line.  As before, the last arpeggio bridges into the syncopated thirds in the right hand.
2:59 [m. 42]--Stanza 2, lines 6-7.  The first rising attempt in the vocal line seems to match 1:01 [m. 15], with the motion to G major.  But now the second attempt is higher, not lower, moving to B-flat instead of F, and she also begins to build in volume.  The piano continues this buildup in the arpeggio and bridge to the last attempt on the final line.  As she sings “komm, o komme,” the piano artfully slides from B-flat major into D-flat, with a change of key signature from sharps to flats (this is a re-spelling of the “home” or “parallel” major key on C-sharp).  This turn to the home major represents the climax of pitch and volume.
3:18 [m. 47]--Having reached the high point and spending all of the character’s strength, the singer quickly descends over the piano’s D-flat-major arpeggio and syncopated chords, stretching out the word “komme.”  The last notes slide by half-step into the final word “bald” on a dissonant “diminished seventh” harmony.  There are no more arpeggios, but the syncopated chords continue, diminishing quickly.  The singer repeats the plea of the final line, reaching the warm cadence as the piano’s syncopation breaks.  The piano utters two more sets of repeated syncopated chords in the middle register, the second on another colorful harmony, then concludes with a low octave downbeat and a full major chord.
4:00--END OF SONG [53 mm.]


3. Klage (Lament).  Allegedly a folk text from the lower Rhine, but probably written by the compiler, Anton Wilhelm Florentin von Zuccalmaglio.  Einfach und ausdrucksvoll (Simply and full of expression--voice); Andante espressivo (piano part).  Simple strophic form.  F MAJOR, 3/4 time (High key B-flat major).
(The title Klage is also used for Op. 69, Nos. 1 and 2.)

German Text:
Feins Liebchen, trau du nicht,
Daß er dein Herz nicht bricht!
Schön Worte will er geben,
Es kostet dein jung Leben,
Glaubs sicherlich, glaubs sicherlich!

Ich werde nimmer froh,
Denn mir ging es also:
Die Blätter vom Baum gefallen
Mit den schönen Worten allen,
Ist Winterzeit, ist Winterzeit!

Es ist jetzt Winterzeit,
Die Vögelein sind weit,
Die mir im Lenz gesungen,
Mein Herz ist mir gesprungen
Vor Liebesleid, vor Liebesleid.

English Translation


0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1, lines 1-2.  Beginning with an upbeat, the singer presents two identical phrases, a long-short rhythm after the upbeat being their main distinction.  They seem to press forward in a gentle manner.  The piano discreetly accompanies, reiterating the “dominant” note C in the bass.  The harmony is changed under the end of the second phrase to move toward the “relative” minor key (D minor).
0:08 [m. 5]--Stanza 1, lines 3-4.  These two lines also use the long-short rhythm, but they move steadily and sequentially downward and feature a “leaning” note (a so-called “appoggiatura”) at the end of each phrase.  Another minor key, the “supertonic” G minor, asserts itself, but the end of the fourth line veers back to D minor.  Under these lines, the piano has rests on the downbeats and plays slurred chords on the second and third beats of each measure.
0:15 [m. 9]--Stanza 1, line 5.  Swelling in both pitch and volume, the singer presents the first statement to a slower descending arpeggio that seems to want to move back to major.  The repetition, however, continues to descend, re-introduces the long-short rhythm, and falls to a full arrival on the “relative” minor key.  The piano becomes steadily more active under these two climax phrases of repeated text.  Under the first statement, with longer notes in the voice, the right hand descends in faster notes using double third harmonies after longer notes on the downbeats.  Under the repetition, the harmonies become faster and more colorful, including an unusual “augmented” chord on the last word.
0:22 [m. 13]--Piano postlude.  The volume quickly returns to a quiet level.  For two measures, with their upbeats, the closing vocal phrase is echoed, then moved up a third.  Both are still in the same minor key.  But then the opening major key is finally re-established with another upward sequence.  The right hand has chords in the slower rhythm of the vocal climax, and the left plays wide, soothing arpeggios in the now-familiar faster notes.  The complete symmetry is disrupted at the very end by an added fifth measure that serves to fully confirm the return to major.
0:30 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2, lines 1-2.  The similar thematic progress of the three verses lends itself to the simple strophic repetition.
0:37 [m. 5]--Stanza 2, lines 3-4.  As at 0:08, but with added syllables disrupting the long-short rhythm of the third line and splitting the upbeat of the fourth. 
0:43 [m. 9]--Stanza 2, line 5.  Climax with repeated text, as at 0:15.
0:50 [m. 13]--Piano postlude, as at 0:22.
0:59 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 3, lines 1-2, as at the beginning and 0:30.
1:07 [m. 5]--Stanza 3, lines 3-4, as at 0:08 and 0:37.  Declamation as in stanza 1.
1:13 [m. 9]--Stanza 3, line 5.  Climax with repeated text, as at 0:15 and 0:43.
1:20 [m. 13]--Piano postlude, as at 0:22 and 0:50.
1:36--END OF SONG [17 mm. (x3)]--Stanza 3 is written out (not marked with repeat signs) in the original (Simrock) and Peters editions, but not in the Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke.


4. Auf dem Kirchhofe (In the Churchyard).  Text by Detlev von Liliencron.  Mäßig (Moderately--voice); Andante moderato (piano part).  Modified strophic form.  C MINOR (ending C MAJOR), 3/4 and 4/4 time (High key E minor, middle key D minor).

German Text:
Der Tag ging regenschwer und sturmbewegt,
Ich war an manch vergessenem Grab gewesen,
Verwittert Stein und Kreuz, die Kränze alt,
Die Namen überwachsen, kaum zu lesen.

Der Tag ging sturmbewegt und regenschwer,
Auf allen Gräbern fror das Wort: Gewesen.
Wie sturmestot die Särge schlummerten,
Auf allen Gräbern taute still: Genesen.

English Translation


0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  The piano begins with a brief, but stormy and powerful introduction depicting the rainstorm on the graveyard.  It starts on the upbeat, with a sweeping upward arpeggio in 32nd notes on the chord of A-flat.  This leads to a dissonant “diminished” chord on the downbeat.  The pattern continues for four total statements.  All the upbeat arpeggios are on the harmony of A-flat, but with the bass anchored on the keynote C.  After two statements with the dissonant chord (on D), the next two land on the “dominant” chord, but with the keynote C persisting in the bass.  The vocal entry follows the fourth statement.
0:13 [m. 5]--Lines 1-2.  The vocal entry coincides with a fifth upbeat arpeggio, in seven notes, and the first line continues over a sixth.  These are quieter than the introduction.  The presentation is anguished, but declamatory, allowing the piano arpeggios and dissonant chords to lead it down from the opening cry.  After the first line is sung, the piano has one more arpeggio, but it is a slower six-note group.  With the second line, the accompaniment moves to steadier left-hand octaves on downbeats and right-hand chords off the beat.  This quiets down even more and trails down to a delayed arrival on the “dominant” harmony.  At this arrival point on “gewesen,” the meter changes to 4/4 for the third and fourth lines.
0:32 [m. 10]--Lines 3-4.  The piano plays a brief lead-in on the upbeat as the voice pauses.  Moving briefly to F minor, this is also heard under the third line, which has a halting character matched by the pauses in the piano.  Under the fourth line, the piano bass moves down forcefully, and the right hand has mild syncopation.  The voice rises strongly here, seemingly prepared for another arrival on the “dominant,” but at the point of arrival, the piano erupts into a line seemingly reminiscent of the main melodic figure from another song in the group, “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer” (the other “death” song).  The “dominant” itself is tinged with a biting “ninth” note above it, and a descending arpeggio plunges back into 3/4 time.
1:01 [m. 16]--Stanza 2.  The introduction is heard as it was at the beginning of the song, approached from the last beat of the first bar in the return to 3/4 meter.
1:13 [m. 20]--Lines 1-2.  The first line is presented exactly as it was in Stanza 1.  The text is similar, but the adjectives are reversed.  The second line seems as if it will also continue as before, but a second six-note arpeggio appears, and both the voice and the bass line are driven upward.  The bass moves up chromatically by half-step.  Two more six-note arpeggios disrupt the previous accompaniment pattern for this line.  The rising bass and voice swell to a climax on the key word “Gewesen” on the “subdominant” harmony of F minor, to which the bass has risen.  The voice sings the word to a descending arpeggio that recalls the one leading back to 3/4, in contour if not in harmony.  The piano echoes this, trailing in two-note harmonies.
1:37 [m. 26]--Line 3.  The meter again changes to 4/4 at this point, but now the minor key yields to major for the transfigured close of the song.  The setting of these lines is entirely different from stanza 1.  Suddenly hushed, the piano leads from its echo into a rich chordal texture, with a solid bottom line supporting a syncopated descent in both hands.  The voice enters on line 3 with another descending line that is in fact a quotation of the familiar Hassler/Bach “passion chorale” heard so frequently in the St. Matthew Passion.  After the descent, the voice rises to sing a descending arpeggio on “schlummerten.”
1:58 [m. 29]--Line 4.  This line also begins with the “passion chorale” descent, moved up a third in pitch and shifted forward two beats in the meter.  The piano’s right hand now moves to off-beat chord figures, with the left in low bass octaves.  After the descent, the voice leaps up to sing “still,” then pauses as the piano’s off-beat figures lead to the clinching word “Genesen.”  This word, “healed,” is imbued with spirituality through the passion melody and the warm, extended major-key cadence to which it is set.  Under the cadence, the piano plays a major-key transformation of its music from the end of stanza 1. 
2:21 [m. 33]--The piano postlude reverentially continues the mildly syncopated cadence music, then slows to reiterated C-major chords, also syncopated and held across strong beats.  The final held chord is widely spaced, perfectly clinching the musical and textual message of the song’s closing lines. 
3:01--END OF SONG [36 mm.]


5. Verrat (Betrayal).  Text by Karl Lemcke.  Angemessen bewegt (With controlled, steady motion--voice); Con moto (piano part).  Combination of modified strophic and ternary forms.  B MINOR, 4/4 time (High key E-flat minor--curiously this is the key of the middle section in the original B-minor setting).

German Text:
Ich stand in einer lauen Nacht
An einer grünen Linde,
Der Mond schien hell, der Wind ging sacht,
Der Gießbach floß geschwinde.

Die Linde stand vor Liebchens Haus,
Die Türe hört’ ich knarren.
Mein Schatz ließ sacht ein Mannsbild raus:
»Laß morgen mich nicht harren;

Laß mich nicht harren, süßer Mann,
Wie hab’ ich dich so gerne!
Ans Fenster klopfe leise an,
Mein Schatz ist in der Ferne!«

Laß ab vom Druck und Kuß, Feinslieb,
Du Schöner im Sammetkleide,
Nun spute dich, du feiner Dieb,
Ein Mann harrt auf der Heide.

Der Mond scheint hell, der Rasen grün
Ist gut zu unserm Begegnen,
Du trägst ein Schwert und nickst so kühn,
Dein’ Liebschaft will ich segnen! -

Und als erschien der lichte Tag,
Was fand er auf der Heide?
Ein Toter in dem Blumen lag
Zu einer Falschen Leide.

English Translation

Part 1
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1, lines 1-2.  The brief introduction, beginning on an upbeat, establishes the narrative ballad character.  An austere bass melody is punctuated by off-beat chords in the tenor register.  The singer (whose line is unusually notated in the bass clef) also enters on an upbeat.  His melody is straightforward, distinguished by a long-short rhythm to begin the first three measures.  The accompaniment continues in a restrained manner, with simple chords in the middle of the measures.  At the end of the second line, the piano becomes more active, bridging to the next line with an echo of the vocal melody in the bass.
0:16 [m. 8]-Stanza 1, lines 3-4.  The third line continues in a similar manner, with downward motion, still opening measures with a long-short rhythm.  The fourth line reaches down and rises toward a full cadence, using the “melodic minor” raised pitches to approach it.  The piano moves to marching bass octaves with more off-beat right hand chords under this line.  Then, in one of the distinctive features of the setting, the last word of the stanza is repeated.  This happens in all stanzas except for Stanza 2 (whose last line is attached to Stanza 3).  These repetitions, reiterating the cadence, are not in the original poem.
0:28 [m. 13]--Stanza 2, lines 1-3.  The introduction is repeated, and the setting of the first two lines exactly matches that of Stanza 1.  The vocal melody of line 3 is also the same, but the volume level, matching the “secret” discovery of the text in this line (the appearance of the rival) quiets down to pianissimo, and the piano slows to long chords under it.  This prepares for the totally new music that sets the speech of the unfaithful woman in the last line of this stanza and the whole of Stanza 3.
0:50 [m. 22]--Stanza 2, line 4 and Stanza 3, lines 1-2.  To depict the woman’s speech to her paramour, Brahms sets the vocal line higher and marks it in a secretive sotto voce.  The closing line of Stanza 2 flows directly into the first line of Stanza 3.  These lines contain the repeated entreaty “Laß (morgen) mich nicht harren (süßer Mann).”  They are set in the contrasting “subdominant” key of E minor.  They begin with the long-short rhythm, but quickly move to flowing eighth notes.  The piano plays a light alternation of left-hand harmonies on the beat with the right hand following off the beat.  The second line of Stanza 3 follows directly, “sweetly” descending to an arrival on the “relative” major key (D major) and a brief vocal pause.
1:03 [m. 28]--Stanza 3, lines 3-4.  The third line, inviting the rival to knock on her door, is uttered breathlessly in short notes, and there is another brief vocal pause.  The last line of the stanza moves strongly from the “relative” key of D major to the “dominant” key of F-sharp major as the singer leaps down and then rises.  The repetition of the last word, as established in Stanza 1, follows here, adding the emphasis interjection “ja” to make three syllables with “Ferne” (this happens in all the remaining stanzas as well, which end with two-syllable words).  For this line, Brahms indicates a slowing, and the repetition trails upward before the piano alternations come to a pause in anticipation of the contrasting middle section.
Part 2--Lebhafter (Livelier--voice); Più mosso (piano part), E-flat minor
1:21 [m. 34]--Stanza 4, lines 1-2.  E-flat minor looks like a distant key, but it is not.  It is identical to D-sharp minor, the “relative” key to F-sharp major, where the first part just ended.  But the character changes suddenly and dramatically, from narrative ballad to dramatic scene.  The perspective shifts from first person narrative to second person address as the man confronts his rival.  The vocal melody has the same basic rhythm as the one from the first section, and the shape is as if the earlier melody were turned around and reversed.  Faster moving notes are added to the second line.  At this point, the piano restrains itself to forcefully punctuating chords.  The second line ends on the “dominant” harmony (B-flat).
1:29 [m. 38]--Stanza 4, lines 3-4.  Under these lines, the piano becomes more excited, adding descending three-note groups harmonized in thirds against leaping bass octaves.  The voice leaps up and down on the third line before rising on the fourth.  Here, the piano breaks its patterns and harmonizes the voice.  The repetition of the last word (again with the emphasizing “ja”) leaps back down to the low register and slows down.  After the voice again closes on the “dominant,” the piano marches back down to E-flat in a thrilling bridge using long-short rhythm in octaves.
1:44 [m. 45]--Stanza 5, lines 1-2.  The vocal part here is the same as in the first two lines of Stanza 4.  The piano part, however, is elaborated in a compositionally brilliant manner.  Against the first line, in bass octaves, the piano plays the main melody from the first section, emphasizing the connection.  The right hand punctuates this with off-beat octaves.  The pattern continues when the quotation from the opening section breaks under the second line.
1:51 [m. 49]--Stanza 5, lines 3-4.  The third line is the same as in stanza 4, in both the voice and piano part, with the descending piano lines in thirds.  As the last line begins, however, the voice suddenly cuts off on “Liebschaft” with a falling octave.  For this climactic line of the song, new text repetition is added.  After breaking, the voice repeats “dein Liebschaft,” then completes the line on a descent.  As it does, the key artfully changes back to B, major, not minor.  At the point of the key change, the last word “segnen” is sung.  The piano begins a new variant of its active lines, harmonized like horn calls and turning back up.
2:00 [m. 54]--With excited passion, the man prepares to slay the interloper.  The entire line is repeated, including the double statement of “dein Liebschaft,” with the voice echoing the piano “horn call” in high notes against punctuating chords.  As he reaches the end, the piano again presents its “horn call,” and the final word “segnen” leaps down an octave.  The “horn call” figure is extended higher.  There follows the “standard” repetition of the last word with “ja” (in this case the third statement), set to a full measure note and another downward octave leap against perilous chordal alternations in the piano.  These shift to minor at the last moment and culminate in a powerfully dissonant held “diminished seventh” to mark the murder.
Part 3--Wie zu Anfang (As at the beginning)
2:15 [m. 60]--As a transition back to the quiet narrative mood after the terrifying dissonant chord, the piano has a more extended lead-in than the previous introduction.  The main melody from the earlier verses is heard in the bass, with harmonies in the tenor register.  It then moves up to that tenor register in longer notes.  These are surprisingly reminiscent of the word repetition from the very end of Stanza 4, in the middle section.  The entire lead-in is set over the “dominant” harmony, where it comes to a hushed pause.
2:30 [m. 63]--Stanza 6, lines 1-2.  The vocal line here is unchanged from the corresponding lines of the first two stanzas, but the piano accompaniment is in more sustained harmonies, following the voice without the frequent breaks and rests heard before.  The echoing bridge is heard after the second line, as expected.
2:50 [m. 68]--Stanza 6, lines 3-4.  These lines are intensified from Stanza 1.  The two downward motions in line 3 reach a step lower.  Instead of reaching down before its upward motion, line 4 continues directly upward from line 3.  The line is thus higher (by a fourth), and reaches the cadence “early,” on the first syllable of “Leide.”  The piano does move to the familiar marching bass octaves and off-beat chords. 
3:08 [m. 72]--It is left to the now-expected repetition of the final word “Leide” (again with “ja”) to confirm and clinch this cadence.  The first syllable of “Leide” is held for a full measure before leaping down, the piano further isolating its chords to two in a measure.  It plays these on the weak beats with “dominant” harmony under the longer note (itself the “dominant” note) before finally moving definitively to the “tonic” B-minor chords under the vocal cadence.  Here they move to the downbeat.  All are extremely quiet.  The piano then provides extreme contrast with a final “shocking” loud, held B-minor chord in a higher range
3:40--END OF SONG [74 mm.]
END OF SET


BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME