FIVE SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 106
Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449 633-2]
The middle of Brahms’s last three sets of “regular” song settings
is distinguished from both Op. 105 and
Op. 107, almost literally taking the
“middle” road between them. They are in general somewhat
shorter than those of Op. 105 and
certainly (with one exception) longer than the nearly epigrammatic
folk-like songs of Op. 107.
Formally, they also contrast with Op. 105.
Whereas that set relied completely on modified strophic forms, Op.
106 turns toward ternary, or ABA-type settings. Even the one
modified strophic song in the set (No. 2) has a high level of
subtle contrast between verses. Thematically, the set seems,
as always, carefully organized. Whereas Op. 105 showed different (often
gender-specific) perspectives on subjects such as death and
betrayal, Op. 106 demonstrates a gradual motion from nostalgia
toward regret. The first two songs are cheerful, depicting
fond memories of the past and present. Nos. 3-5 gradually
become darker, No. 3 beginning in the cheerful tone of the first
two songs, but quickly moving to its bitter conclusion. That
bitterness continues in No. 4 and especially in No. 5. Nos.
1 and 2 both share titles with previous songs, but the texts are
not the same. No. 1 is a very realistic musical evocation of
the serenade it describes. The piano accompaniment to the
6/8 tune of No. 2 is an equally effective depiction of the boat
described in the text. No. 3, Brahms’s last setting of his
great contemporary (and personal friend) Klaus Groth, begins with
one of his sweetest tunes, making the dark turn at the end of the
song that much more biting. No. 4, whose brevity anticipates
the songs of Op. 107, is a curiously
reflexive text that is perhaps appropriate for Brahms, who was
approaching the end of his career as a song composer. It is
his only setting of this poet. The last song takes the
bitterness to its conclusion, but is not quite as effective a
capstone to the set as “Verrat” was to Op.
105. Overall, the songs of Op. 106 do not quite reach
the mastery of the previous set, but they are pleasing, and, like
Op. 105, display a convincing textual
unity. Unlike most sets, none of these songs shows a
specifically female perspective (and the male perspective in Nos.
2 and 3 is not a strong one), making the set an ideal recital
choice for a single singer.
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.
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
Lübeck--original high keys and low keys both included)
SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max
Ständchen (in original key, G major)
1: Ständchen (in middle key, E major)
Ständchen (in low key, E-flat major)
Auf dem See (in original key, E major)
2: Auf dem See (in low key, C major)
Es hing der Reif (in original key, A minor)
3: Es hing der Reif (in low key, F minor)
Meine Lieder (in original key, F-sharp minor)
4: Meine Lieder (in low key, D-sharp minor)
Ein Wanderer (in original key, F minor)
5: Ein Wanderer (in low key, D minor)
1. Ständchen (Serenade). Text by
Franz Theodor Kugler. Anmutig bewegt (With graceful
motion). Allegretto grazioso. Ternary form. G
MAJOR, 4/4 time (Middle key E major, low key E-flat major).
(The title Ständchen is
also used for Op. 14, No. 7.)
Der Mond steht über dem Berge,
So recht für verliebte Leut’;
Im Garten rieselt ein Brunnen,
Sonst Stille weit und breit.
Neben der Mauer im Schatten,
Da stehn der Studenten drei,
Mit Flöt’ und Geig’ und Zither,
Und singen und spielen dabei.
Die Klänge schleichen der Schönsten
Sacht in den Traum hinein,
sie schaut den blonden Geliebten
und lispelt: »Vergiß nicht mein!«
0:00 [m. 1]--The
introduction is light. The left hand leads with an upbeat
into quickly rolled chords, the right hand playing after the
beats. The right hand then has two smoother lines that end
with quickly rolled chords, under which the left hand has colorful
“sliding” chords. Finally, a light descent in fourths and
thirds leads to the vocal entry.
0:11 [m. 5]--Stanza
1. The melody is gracefully arching and deliberately
nostalgic in character. The piano accompaniment retains the
“strumming” effect in the left hand, with alternating bass notes
and chords. After a break, the third line makes a sudden
harmonic shift to E major, and the right hand chords gently soar
above the voice. The last line stretches out “Stille,”
moving back to G major, then smoothly descends to a cadence.
0:31 [m. 13]--At the
cadence, a piano interlude begins as the introduction had, but
quickly transitions to the second stanza, or middle section, with
a motion to D major.
0:35 [m. 15]--Stanza
2. The vocal line is more forceful and rhythmic, as is the
accompaniment. The left hand retains the “strumming”
character as the other instruments are described. The first
two lines are in the closely related D major. Rolled chords
return to bridge to the next line.
0:44 [m. 19]--The third
line quickly shifts to C major (on the other side of G).
Rolled chords again bridge to the next line. The fourth line
is stated first in the more distant E-flat major, and then
repeated, with a very subtle shift, in the even more distant B
major. Between the two statements of the fourth line, the
accompaniment shifts to quick, rushing arpeggios before returning
to the rolled chords under the second statement. Both
statements of the last line build strongly, and the second
stretches out the word “spielen.”
0:55 [m. 24]--The piano
interlude incorporates the rushing arpeggios that were just
introduced while retaining the melodic structure of the
introduction above them, even including the punctuating rolled
chords. At the end, it diminishes while moving back to the
home key of G major.
1:06 [m. 27]--Stanza
3. It is virtually identical to stanza 1, but Brahms marks
it dolce (“sweetly”),
and the first two lines subtly alter the right hand, with the top
note playing before the lower notes and contributing to the
“strumming.” There are two slight alterations to notes to
fit the declamation of the text, one subtraction at the beginning
of the second line, and one addition in the middle of the last
1:28 [m. 36]--The piano
postlude begins like the introduction, but after the initial
rolled chords, it breaks into the melody from the end of the vocal
line. It then concludes with a final “strum.”
1:43--END OF SONG [39 mm.]
2. Auf dem See (On the Lake). Text by
Christian Reinhold. Anmutig bewegt und ausdrucksvoll (With
graceful motion and full of expression). Two-part modified
strophic form. E MAJOR, 6/8 time (Low key C major).
(The title Auf dem See
is also used for Op. 59, No. 2.)
An dies Schifflein schmiege,
Holder See, dich sacht!
Frommer Liebe Wiege,
Nimm sie wohl in Acht!
Deine Wellen rauschen;
Rede nicht so laut!
Laß mich ihr nur lauschen,
Die mir viel vertraut!
[ Here a stanza not set by Brahms]
Deine Wellen zittern
Von der Sonne Glut;
Ob sie’s heimlich wittern,
Wie die Liebe tut?
Weit und weiter immer
Rück den Strand hinaus!
Aus dem Himmel nimmer
Laß mich steigen aus!
Fern von Menschenreden
Und von Menschensinn,
Als ein schwimmend Eden
Trag dies Schifflein hin!
0:00 [m. 1]--The piano
introduction sets the graceful, somewhat halting pattern of the
accompaniment. Rising arpeggios, quickly rolled chords
closing each of the first two bars, and a gentle lead-in with
alternating right and left hand chords all prepare the vocal
0:09 [m. 5]--Stanza
(strophe) 1. The vocal line has the character of a
barcarolle, illustrating the boat on the water with typical
long-short rhythms in 6/8 time. The rippling accompaniment
contributes to this, sweeping downward in arpeggios beginning off
the beat. The bass notes mark the beats. When bridging
from the second to the third line, the piano adds a subtle,
syncopated upper voice that imitates the previous vocal
notes. This upper voice also appears after the last line,
leading to and underpinning a repetition of that line and its
motion to the “dominant” key of B major. A two-bar bridge
recalling the introduction remains in that key.
0:31 [m. 16]--Stanza
(strophe) 2. The first part of this verse becomes more
forceful, the vocal line moving upward by half-steps. The
piano arpeggios sweep up and down. The second line has a
similar arching sweep. Bridging to the third line, the piano
has a bar of hemiola, or
a grouping of implied 3/4 over the prevailing 6/8. The last
two lines return to the music of strophe 1, but come to a full
cadence in the home key of E. The two-bar bridge is similar
to the previous one, but it now must move back to B major, since
stanza 3 begins there in the same manner as stanza 2.
0:50 [m. 25]--Stanza
(strophe) 3. This stanza begins with similar text to that of
stanza 2 (as, in fact, does the stanza Brahms omitted). The
music also begins as did strophe 2, but the second line makes an
unexpected detour to G major. The last two lines then
intensify and work to a climax, moving again back to E
major. This ends the first part (three
stanzas/strophes). Note that strophe 2 has a clear
connection to strophe 1, while strophe 3 is related to strophe 2,
but not strophe 1. This is an interesting progression for a
modified strophic form.
1:06 [m. 32]--The piano
interlude leading to the second part (two stanzas/strophes),
retains the energy picked up by strophe 3. The syncopated
upper voice appears again and becomes more pronounced. It
drops out in the bar leading into the vocal entry for strophe 4.
1:11 [m. 35]--Stanza
(strophe) 4. The vocal line begins as did strophe 1, but
Brahms indicates that the music continue to become more
lively. The descending arpeggios now overlap between the
hands. The upper voice appears earlier, its syncopations
actually underpinning the vocal line and doubling it, rather than
simply imitating the notes. The music then diverges from
strophe 1 in the last two lines, which have more sweep.
These lines are repeated and varied, including another piano hemiola in the first bar of
the repetition. This text repetition leads effortlessly to a
full cadence like that of strophe 2. Brahms clearly
considered these two lines the climax of the poem. Strophe 4
thus begins like strophe 1 and ends similarly to strophe 2.
Another bridge recalls the introduction.
1:35 [m. 48]--Stanza
(strophe) 5. Things become gradually and steadily quieter
and more still over the course of the verse. It is the most
dissimilar to the other strophes. The accompaniment keeps
the “halting” character of the introduction, and each line is
broadened to three bars instead of two. The second
line moves briefly to the related C-sharp minor.
1:47 [m. 54]--The third
line of the stanza moves to straight alternation of the left and
right hands on each of the six “beats.” This undermines the
6/8 meter and suggests 3/4. The vocal line remains clearly
in 6/8, creating cross-grouping. The line is again three
bars. The last line, another sweeping arch, returns to 6/8
grouping in the piano, but the notes and sliding chords are
slower, pausing halfway through each bar. This continues in
a two-bar bridge to the repetition of these two lines, but the
bridge suggests the “straight alternation” again. The first
bar of this bridge overlaps with the completion of the line, and
includes a ringing syncopated top note.
2:03 [m. 61]--Brahms
repeats the last two lines of the stanza. The repetition of
line 3 is stretched to four bars by the addition of the words
“trag es” (“es” substituting for “dies Schifflein”). The
four-bar phrase returns to the straight alternation and
cross-grouping heard in the line’s previous statement, but it now
includes reiterations of the “ringing” syncopated top note heard
in the preceding bridge. In the last two bars, the piano
halts completely after the first beat.
2:13 [m. 65]--The
repetition of the last line is actually a double repetition, with
every word except “hin” being stated twice (and the word “trag”
being stated three times counting the addition to the third
line). This stretches the phrase to five bars, the longest
in the song. The accompaniment is again similar to the
previous statement of the line, with 6/8 grouping and pauses, and
the line has the same sweeping vocal arch, now greatly prolonged.
2:26 [m. 69]--The short
postlude that overlaps the cadence returns to the halting
character of the introduction, even including one more quickly
rolled chord. It slows and diminishes until the last, longer
2:45--END OF SONG [71 mm.]
3. Es hing der Reif (Hoarfrost was Hanging).
Text by Klaus Groth. Träumerisch (Dreamily). Ternary
form. A MINOR, 3/4 time (Low key F minor).
Es hing der Reif im Lindenbaum,
Wodurch das Licht wie Silber floß.
Ich sah dein Haus, wie hell im Traum
Ein blitzend Feenschloß.
Und offen stand das Fenster dein,
Ich konnte dir ins Zimmer sehn -
Da tratst du in den Sonnenschein,
Du dunkelste der Feen!
Ich bebt’ in seligem Genuß,
So frühlingswarm und wunderbar:
Da merkt’ ich gleich an deinem Gruß,
Daß Frost und Winter war.
0:00 [m. 1]--The brief
piano introduction beginning with a partial bar does not clearly
establish the minor key, but strongly suggests it. There are
two “sighing” figures in chords, the first moving to C major and
the second to A minor. The left hand figures, three-note
upbeat rising arpeggios, persist through the first stanza.
0:08 [m. 5]--Stanza
1. The very sweet, swaying melody is a major/minor mixture,
and by the end of the second line, the music clearly feels more in
C major than in A minor (the two are “relative” keys). The
short-long rhythm becomes nearly obsessive. The
accompaniment, whose top notes double the vocal line, includes
some colorful chords with notes foreign to both keys. The
bass line with three-note upbeats steadily and insistently works
its way down the keyboard.
0:20 [m. 13]--The last two
lines of stanza 1 continue the major/minor ambiguity, the third
line seeming to move clearly to minor. The last line
includes leaps up and down an octave on the dissonant note
F-sharp, and it builds noticeably. The line is then
repeated, breaking the short-long rhythm, leaping up an octave,
and floating back down. The piano retains the established
rhythmic patterns in both hands. The vocal line comes to a
half-cadence in C major, and this is echoed by the piano, whose
top and bottom notes have “stalled” on the “dominant” note, G.
0:40 [m. 26]--Stanza
2. The C-major character continues for the first two lines,
the suddenly sparse accompaniment suggesting the trepidation of
looking in the window. The flowing vocal rhythms, clearly
contrasted with the persistent short-long of stanza 1, grow out of
the repetition of that stanza’s last line. The accompaniment
is reduced to punctuating “sigh” figures. These underlie the
long-held notes on “offen” and “konnte,” and also mark the end of
each line. At the end of the second line, the “sigh” figures
grow into the pervasive short-long rhythm, bridging to the last
two lines and preparing the change of key to A-flat.
0:58 [m. 38]--The last two
lines of the stanza are musically more related to stanza 1, but
include a dramatic shift to the foreign key of A-flat as the woman
enters the room. They are mostly in the short-long rhythm,
but include one arching line on “Sonnenschein.” Line 4 quickly
returns back to the more familiar area of C major. A short,
dramatic recall of the piano introduction sets up the last stanza
and once again prepares A minor.
1:19 [m. 48]--Stanza
3. It is very similar to stanza 1, but with important
changes. The first line is altered to better fit the
declamation. This includes a dramatic pause after “Ich
bebt’” (“I trembled”), and a leap to the highest vocal pitch of
the song after the pause, leading into faster notes on “seligem
Genuß.” There is then a piano “echo” that was not there
before, mirroring the similar “echo” during the pause after “Ich
bebt’.” Lines 2 and 3 are virtually identical to their
counterparts in stanza 1, but the opening harmonies under line 2
are less colorful. Line 3 again moves to minor.
1:41 [m. 62]--Line 4 is
now altered, along with its repetition, to stay strongly in A
minor and end there, not only confirming the key of the song, but
starkly emphasizing the very dark turn of the line. The
repetition of the line, which is displaced by two beats, has a
similar motion to its counterpart in stanza 1, but it works
further upward after the octave leap. The accompaniment also
completely breaks the pattern, settling onto long chords in the
low register. At the last two words, the vocal line broadens
greatly, stretching out the bitterly bleak A-minor cadence.
1:59 [m. 74]--The postlude
stretches out the “sigh” figure from the introduction over a broad
arpeggio in the left hand. All ambiguity is now dispersed in
this closing, which transforms the “sigh” into a highly pathetic
wail. Perhaps ironically, the wail is set to the same
pitches as the hopeful “Ich bebt’” at the beginning of the stanza.
2:11--END OF SONG [77 mm.]
4. Meine Lieder (My Songs). Text by
Adolf Frey. Bewegt und leise (With motion and
quietly). Through-composed form with much melodic
repetition. F-SHARP MINOR, Cut time [2/2] (Low key D-sharp
Wenn mein Herz beginnt zu klingen
Und den Tönen löst die Schwingen,
Schweben vor mir her und wieder
Bleiche Wonnen, unvergessen
Und die Schatten von Zypressen -
Dunkel klingen meine Lieder!
0:00 [m. 1]--The
introduction presents all of the basic melodic ideas used in the
song. In the top voice, there is a four-note descent in
long-short rhythm. This is followed by more steady motion in
the third bar. Finally, there is a hovering figure in faster
long-short (dotted) rhythm that includes half-steps and a
prominent grace note. The first two bars are supported by
descending arpeggios passed down to the left hand. The third
and fourth bars gradually turn these around. All of these
elements contribute to a wistful, delicate, and melancholy mood.
0:07 [m. 5]--The first two
lines retain the character of the introduction. The piano
part under the first line is nearly identical to the introduction
at first, introducing only slight and subtle variations. The
vocal line retains the rhythm, but not the contour of the pattern
presented in the introduction. It introduces a rising sweep
in the “steady” third bar. The end of the vocal phrase takes
over the prominent grace note from the piano.
0:13 [m. 9]--The second
line is highly similar to the first, but it introduces subtle,
colorful changes in the pitches of both the voice and piano parts
that help it turn to the “dominant” key of C-sharp minor.
0:19 [m. 13]--The third
and fourth lines are less agitated, marked dolce (“sweetly”) by
Brahms. Two introductory measures begin the familiar pattern
in C-sharp minor. When the voice enters, it continues this
rhythmic pattern of the slower long-short figures for the entire
third line, while the piano also continues these over the
persistent descending arpeggios. The end of the line turns
to a remote-sounding D major, where the fourth line begins.
0:28 [m. 19]--The fourth
line moves to the “steady” figures based on the rising sweep heard
in the third bar of the first line. There are two of these,
heard while the piano continues the slower long-short figures and
descending arpeggios. The “steady” figures turn downward on
their last note. The last two bars of the phrase move to a
straightened-out version of the “hovering” figure heard at the end
of the introduction. They make another harmonic motion, an
easy progression from D to G major. In the last bar, the
piano left hand introduces rising arpeggios for the first time.
0:36 [m. 23]--The fifth
line reduces the vocal motion to slower notes on four drooping
two-note figures that gradually expand downward. The top
note of each remains the same, but the bottom notes move down by
half-step each time.. The right hand of the piano plays rich, full
chords under these figures. The left hand continues the new
upward arpeggios introduced at the end of the fourth line.
These are in three-note groups beginning off the beat. One
piano-only measure follows the text. This echoes, at a
higher level, the last “drooping” figure heard on
“Cypressen.” The line is set in G major, with some minor-key
inflection, but never really settles there.
0:46 [m. 28]--The final
line is a sort of “return” to the first line and the introduction,
but now the vocal line begins by moving down, while the piano
arpeggios continue the upward motion. This is now in the
more continuous pattern from the introduction, but with reversed
direction. The phrase slides easily down to the home key of
F-sharp minor from the G major of the fifth line. The piano
bass moves steadily downward, first doubling the voice and then
0:52 [m. 32]--The line is
repeated to a new vocal phrase that begins higher, introduces the
“steady” figure (now with a downward sweep), and ends with the
“hovering” figure incorporating the characteristic grace note from
the introduction and first line. The piano bass continues to
move downward against the rising arpeggios. The line comes
to a full cadence in F-sharp minor after being stretched to an
extra bar by prolonging the words of the title.
1:00 [m. 36]--The
postlude, which overlaps with the vocal cadence, is a repetition
of the introduction with some added harmonies, but the last
measure is repeated as the music slows to a close, and some final
cadence chords are added over a rising arpeggio.
1:22--END OF SONG [42 mm.]
5. Ein Wanderer (A Traveler). Text by
Christian Reinhold. In langsam gehender Bewegung (In slow,
but constant motion). Modified strophic or ternary form
(First and third verses nearly identical) F MINOR, 2/4
time (Low key D minor).
Hier, wo sich die Straßen scheiden,
Wo nun gehn die Wege hin?
Meiner ist der Weg der Leiden,
Des ich immer sicher bin.
Wandrer, die des Weges gehen,
Fragen freundlich: Wo hinaus?
Keiner wird mich doch verstehen,
Sag’ ich ihm, wo ich zu Haus.
Reiche Erde, arme Erde,
Hast du keinen Raum für mich?
Wo ich einst begraben werde,
An der Stelle lieb’ ich dich.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. Two chords, the top voice of which descends by a third,
set up the stark mood of the song The piano part is steady and
inexorable, the hands moving mostly in opposite directions, the
right hand up and the left hand down in groups of four, sometimes
combined with rests and syncopation. The upward vocal sweep
of the first line is constant through the three verses. The
second line winds its way down in an almost tortured manner.
The piano imitates the motion of this line in a one-bar break
before the third line.
0:18 [m. 7]--The third
line intensifies the mood and introduces more dotted (long-short)
rhythms, along with syncopation in the piano left hand. The
left hand begins by shadowing the decisive vocal line, but then
plunges strongly downward. The last line of the stanza comes
to a full cadence after a colorful harmonic detour to the
“Neapolitan” harmony of G-flat major, a half-step above the home
key., The voice strives upward after steadily moving down in
line 3, and the left hand continues to work down to the bottom of
the keyboard. Before the cadence, the right hand begins to
play halting harmonized descents in groups of two notes.
This continues after the cadence, as the last two words, “sicher
bin” are repeated for another confirming cadence an octave
lower. The music then quiets down as the two-note groups
0:35 [m. 13]--Stanza
2. The opening descent emerges from the trailing piano
groups. It is reduced to simple, quiet harmonic thirds in
the low bass register. They outline the chord of the home
key. The vocal line begins as in stanza 1, but the piano
part is changed, with the right hand moving down in plodding
groups beginning off the beat. The left hand plays low
broken octaves, as it did at the end of stanza 1. The second
vocal line diverges from the notes of stanza 1 with the hopeful
question, and makes another move toward G-flat (earlier than in
stanza 1), this time actually reaching a cadence there, which is
echoed by the piano in another one-bar break before the third
0:53 [m. 19]--Lines three
and four begin lower than in stanza 1, and the piano part becomes
more agitated, with quicker dotted rhythms. F minor is
quickly re-established. Line four intensifies, as before,
but now four words (syllables) are repeated instead of two (three
syllables), and the repetition becomes more agitated rather than
settling down. The two statements heavily emphasize the
harmony of the “dominant” chord, and the second one is expanded
with longer note values. The vocal line of this expansion nearly
cries out, and the piano, still playing in faster dotted rhythms,
breaks into highly dramatic chords. These lead to a dramatic
pause on the highly anticipatory, unresolved “dominant” chord, and
the vocal line also does not reach resolution after its lamenting
1:16 [m. 26]--Stanza
3. It is introduced by bare octaves instead of chords, but
the notes are the same descending third. The octaves are
echoed after the beat in the low bass. Except for the first
two measures, the verse is virtually identical to stanza 1.
Those two measures dispense with the upward striving of the piano
part in favor of four descending block chords in the right hand
and offbeat octaves in the left on the note F, continuing and
completing the F-minor broken chord that began in the descent of
the introductory bar.
1:34 [m. 32]--In the third
line of the stanza, another very minor difference from stanza 1 is
that the notes of the word “werde” in the vocal line are a third
higher than those of “Leiden” in stanza 1. Three words are
repeated at the end (three syllables, though, as in stanza 1).
1:51 [m. 38]--The piano
postlude begins with the same desolate low bass descent of
harmonized thirds that introduced stanza 2, appearing in the same
way after the downward trailing two-note groups of the
piano. To close the song, the descent is repeated two
octaves higher, in full harmony and above an ascending F-minor
arpeggio. This final descent adds one more descending third
to complete the broken chord in the top voice.
2:14--END OF SONG [40 mm.]
END OF SET
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