FIVE SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 107
The songs in this very last “regular” set are
distinguished by their extreme brevity. None of the five is
longer than two minutes, and only the first and last (barely)
exceed ninety seconds. Even though none of the poems are to
folk texts, they have the character and mood sometimes seen in
Brahms’s folk-like settings. In contrast to Op. 105 and Op. 106, there is
no “capstone” song like “Verrat” or “Ein Wanderer” from those
groups. All five show an exquisite adaptation of strophic
form. None of them is a purely simple strophic setting,
although Nos. 1 and 3 come close, with only minimal adaptations to
the accompaniments at the beginning of their second verses.
It seems as if Brahms wanted to say farewell to that most
“miniature” of musical forms, the art song, with the most
miniature--though masterfully crafted--examples. The first,
to a text by the baroque poet Fleming, exemplifies the artfulness
with the independence and interdependence of the voice and piano
parts. Brahms’s friend Elisabet von Herzogenberg, from whom
he asked for commentary on his later songs, observed that the
genial setting seemed to conflict with the description of the
“proud woman,” but the narrator is in fact still attempting to win
her over. The contrast between the voice and piano could
represent the distance between the characters. “Salamander”
is an overt attempt at musical humor, but Elisabet (who disliked
Lemcke intensely) was scandalized by the text with its “cool
devil.” The third song, which imitates birdsong in both the
voice and piano, exudes pure happiness as a new bride converses
with a female swallow about love and marriage. The abrupt
harmonic shifts and the poignant slowing in each verse are still
too warm and amiable to suggest real concern, despite the
protagonist’s questions. “Mainkätzchen,” set to a very
diminutive poem with two nearly identical stanzas, nonetheless has
a greatly varied and extended setting of the second stanza to
highlight the remembered time when the narrator decorated not his
own hat, but that of his erstwhile beloved, with the catkins of
the title. The text could have invited melancholy, but it is
instead sweetly nostalgic. The set closes with the last of three songs titled
“Mädchenlied” (two of which are by Heyse). In contrast to
the rest of the set, this “spinning” song is despairing and almost
bitter in its depiction of the lonely girl. The extended,
coda-like final verse displays some consolation in its use of
major-key harmonies, but the passionate climactic outcry and
threefold repetition of the last line are profoundly sad.
Jessye Norman, soprano (Nos. 3, 5); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,
baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449 633-2]
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
lower key edition. Lower keys of Nos. 2-3 match
Peters middle-key edition.)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From
Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke--original
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max
No. 1: An die Stolze (in original
key, A major)
No. 1: An die Stolze (in low key, F major)
No. 2: Salamander (in original key, A
No. 2: Salamander (in middle key,
Salamander (in low key, F minor/major)
No. 3: Das Mädchen spricht (in
original key, A major)
No. 3: Das Mädchen spricht (in
middle key, F-sharp major)
3: Das Mädchen spricht (in low key, F major)
No. 4: Maienkätzchen (in original
key, E-flat major)
No. 4: Maienkätzchen
(in low key, C major)
5: Mädchenied (in original key, B minor)
No. 5: Mädchenlied (in middle
key, A minor)
No. 5: Mädchenlied (in low key, G minor)
1. An die Stolze (To the Proud Woman). Text
by Paul Fleming. Sehr lebhaft und ausdrucksvoll (Very lively
and expressively). Strophic form. A MAJOR, Cut time
[2/2] (Low key F major).
Und gleichwohl kann ich anders nicht,
Ich muß ihr günstig sein,
Obgleich der Augen stolzes Licht
Mir mißgönnt seinen Schein.
Ich will, ich soll, ich soll, ich muß dich lieben,
Dadurch wir beid’ uns nur betrüben,
Weil mein Wunsch doch nicht gilt
Und du nicht hören wilt.
Wie manchen Tag, wie manche Nacht,
Wie manche liebe Zeit
Hab’ ich mit Klagen durchgebracht,
Und du verlachst mein Leid!
Du weißt, du hörst, du hörst, du siehst die Schmerzen,
Und nimmst der’ keinen doch zu Herzen,
So daß ich zweifle fast,
Ob du ein Herze hast.
[Here two stanzas not set by Brahms]
English Translation (includes stanzas
3 and 4, not set by Brahms)
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (Strophe) 1, lines 1-2. The
piano plays a low bass downbeat, and the voice immediately
enters. The vocal and piano lines are independent of each
other. The singer presents the first line with a
descending melody that is rich in mildly dissonant notes
resolving downward. It reaches up again once before
completing the line. The piano, meanwhile, has a flowing
mid-range melody that arches up and then descends in long-short
rhythm. This pattern is retained for the second line,
where both the voice and piano reach higher and veer toward
C-sharp minor, with three notes on the first syllable of
“günstig.” The voice breaks while the piano quickly moves
back home, its right hand reaching higher.
0:10 [m. 7]--Stanza 1, lines 3-4. The same pattern
appears to begin again, but the piano, which begins more
quietly, adds bell-like chords in the right hand, leaving the
flowing melody to the left and dispensing with some bass
notes. Inner notes of these chords double the vocal
line. The voice adds a new upward leap at the end of line
3. Line 4 appears to match line 2, but with the continuing
bell-like chords in the right hand. At the end, however,
it reaches even higher and moves to the “dominant” E major
instead of its “relative” C-sharp minor. The piano only
has three chords echoing the voice, no bridge as it did after
0:18 [m. 12]--Stanza 1, line 5. The piano, quiet
again but building, continues the bell like chords, now against
higher downward-arching figures in the left hand. The
voice tentatively breathes out the first words of line 5, “Ich
will, ich soll.” The harmonies, with a prominent F-natural
in a “diminished” chord, hint at either A minor or C
major. After a pause, the voice continues with “ich soll,
ich muß,” holding the last word on the persistent F-natural
against dissonant chords and long-short left-hand skips and
leaps. The voice then leaps down an octave to complete the
line, holding a low F-natural on “lieben.” Against this
climax, the piano has a broad upward arpeggio on a colorful
“diminished seventh” chord resolving to the “dominant” in A.
0:27 [m. 18]--Stanza 1, line 6. The voice and piano
have been largely independent to this point, symbolizing the
distance between the “proud woman” and her insistent
suitor. Now, solidly in the home key, they come together
somewhat in a sequence of exchanges with piano chords echoing
brief vocal interjections on “dadurch,” wir Beid,” and “uns
nur,” the first two jumping up, the last one down. The
piano emerges into a brief arpeggio as the line is completed on
0:35 [m. 22]--Stanza 1, lines 7-8. The singer, in
the role of the suitor, becomes more insistent and bitter in
these brief closing lines. The vocal line arches up and
down on line 7 as the piano introduces a new pattern with left
hand harmonies on the beats and the right hand echoing them
after the beat. Leading into line 8, these harmonies
become mildly dissonant three-note chords. Line 8 is
presented in a similar arch, reaching full harmonic closure, but
the piano continues, again with dissonant chords, and the last
line is repeated with an upward leap and a descent in longer
notes, the piano chords continuing and building in volume.
0:43 [m. 28]--The voice reaches an emphatic cadence with
the repeated, lengthened final line. In the short
postlude, the piano continues with the right-hand chords after
the beat, but these move down to the middle range. Instead
of chords, the left hand has a broadly arching arpeggio in low
bass notes. Both hands are in meter-obscuring three-beat
groups. Both then slow down and become quiet, still
obscuring the meter in a longer six-beat group. They come
together on the last chord.
0:49 [m. 31]--Stanza (strophe) 2, lines 1-2. The
vocal line is unchanged from stanza 1, but the piano melody is
an octave higher. The few bass notes are still mostly in
their original low octave. The voice now has three notes
on the first syllable of “liebe.” With the arpeggio
leading into the short bridge, the piano is fully restored to
its original register, and the rest of the stanza is identical
to the first.
0:59 [m. 37]--Stanza 2, lines 3-4, set as at 0:10 [m. 7].
1:08 [m. 42]--Stanza 2, line 5, set as at 0:18 [m.
12]. The short interjections on “Du weißt, du horst, du
horst, du siehst” match those in the first stanza. The
climactic low F-natural is on “Schmerzen.”
1:17 [m. 48]--Stanza 2, line 6, set as at 0:27 [m.
18]. The vocal interjections are on “und nimmst,” “der
kei-” and “-nen doch,” breaking up the word “keinen.” The
last line is completed on “zu Herzen.”
1:24 [m. 52]--Stanza 2, lines 7-8, set as at 0:35 [m. 22]
with climactic longer repetition of the last line, now the
powerful “ob du ein Herze hast” (“whether you even have a
heart”), more potent than the earlier “und du nicht hören willt”
(“and you will not hear me”).
1:32 [m. 58]--Cadence and postlude, as at 0:43 [m.
28]. The quiet final chord is held.
1:44--END OF SONG [60 mm.]
2. Salamander (Salamander). Text by Karl
Lemcke. Mit Laune (With good humor). Modified strophic
form. A MINOR/MAJOR, 4/4 time (Middle key F-sharp
minor/major, low key F minor/major).
Es saß ein Salamander
Auf einem kühlen Stein,
da warf ein böses Mädchen
Ins Feuer ihn hinein.
Sie meint’, er soll verbrennen,
Ihm ward erst wohl zu Mut,
wohl wie mir kühlem Teufel
Die heiße Liebe tut.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1, lines 1-2. The voice begins on
an upbeat, and the piano immediately responds with a descending
A-minor arpeggio that turns back up on C major. The vocal
melody marches up against this arpeggio. The second line is
marked by a turning gesture on “kühlen” over “dominant”
harmony. After the voice reaches its cadence, this “turning”
gesture is strongly imitated by the piano leading into the next
0:07 [m. 5]--Stanza 1, lines 3-4. The voice leaps up
to begin the third line, then plunges down. The piano
figuration continues to evoke the “turning” gesture with the
harmony again hinting at the “relative” C major. At the word
“Mädchen,” there is a dissonant “diminished” chord which is
reiterated when the voice jumps up again to begin line 4.
The line continues in the voice with a downward arch as the piano
left hand leaps up and down in octaves. The line is
completed on the “dominant” chord, but the piano immediately plays
a forceful gesture on the “diminished” harmony with the hands in
contrary motion. The voice then uses this gesture to begin a
higher repetition of line 4 that ends with a full A-minor
0:16 [m. 10]--With the vocal cadence, the piano begins an
interlude based on the opening vocal melody. The left hand,
in octaves, outlines that melody against mildly syncopated
long-short chords in the right hand. Then things become
suddenly quieter as the right hand plays off-beat chords after
left hand bass notes. These right-hand chords are a
disguised version of the turning gesture from the second
line. They slow down with a pause in preparation for the
vocal entry of stanza 2.
0:23 [m. 14]--Stanza 2, lines 1-2. The key signature
changes to A major. The statement of line 1 is simply a
major-key version of the line from stanza 1, with harmony on
C-sharp minor substituted for the previous C major. However,
a break is added after the line for the piano to echo its final
gesture, adding an upper harmony. The second line is also
changed to major, complete with the “turning” gesture, which is
again imitated by the piano, this time more gently and with a
harmonic shift toward C-sharp minor.
0:32 [m. 19]--Stanza 2, lines 3-4. Line 3 is like
stanza 1, but the piano and voice both suggest C-sharp
minor. Things change with line 4. The voice leaps up,
then climbs chromatically, firmly establishing A major.
There is also upward motion in the left-hand octaves. The
right hand, however, which is richly harmonized, has a downward
chromatic motion alternating with lower notes. This contrary
motion between the voice and the right hand evokes the forceful
piano gesture heard before the repetition of the line in stanza
1. There is thus a connection between “Feuer” (“fire”) there
and “heiße Liebe” (“hot love”) here. The piano then states
that very gesture leading into the analogous line repetition.
0:39 [m. 23]--The repetition of line 4 reverses the
chromatic contrary motion, the voice moving down and stretching
out the word “heiße” against upward motion in both hands of the
piano. The word “Liebe” is then stretched out before an
emphatic A-major cadence whose piano figures, with their dramatic
pauses, echo the corresponding A-minor cadence in stanza 1.
0:42 [m. 25]--The postlude begins like a major-key version
of the interlude from 0:16 [m. 10], but the left-hand octaves and
the syncopated chords in the right hand are stretched out for
another two measures, with the left hand twice leaping down,
moving lower each time and ending up in the piano’s lowest
register. Then, as in the interlude, things get quiet again,
and there is an almost cheeky upward gesture in the right hand,
which has moved to the tenor register, before the gently sighing
0:58--END OF SONG [31 mm.]
3. Das Mädchen spricht (The Girl Speaks).
Text by Otto Friedrich Gruppe. Lebhaft und anmutig (Lively
and graceful). Strophic form. A MAJOR, 3/4 time
(Middle key F-sharp major, low key F major).
Schwalbe, sag mir an,
Ist’s dein alter Mann
Mit dem du’s Nest gebaut,
Oder hast du jüngst erst
Dich ihm vertraut?
Sag’, was zwitschert ihr,
Sag’, was flüstert ihr
Des Morgens so vertraut?
Gelt, du bist wohl auch noch
Nicht lange Braut?
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1, introduction. The
piano sets up the rhythms and arpeggios, evoking bird song, that
pervade throughout. The right hand has continuous descents
in fast long-short-short rhythm that themselves move continually
downward. The left hand has simpler upward long-short leaps,
but these also move steadily down. After three measures, the
second of which is mildly chromatic, there is a pause, then a soft
sighing gesture in the right hand (against more long-short leaps
in the left) preparing the vocal entry.
0:07 [m. 5]--Stanza 1, lines 1-3. The singer presents
the first two lines in short downward-arching phrases that evoke
the bird-like figuration from the introduction. The piano is
delicately interwoven, also deploying the long-short-short
rhythms, descending against the vocal lines, then ascending
between them. The left hand begins each measure with a
longer note, followed by a broad upward arching motion in
long-short rhythm. In the third line, the voice shoots up in
long-short rhythms. The piano, meanwhile, arranges its
figures in a meter-crossing hemiola suggesting a longer
3/2 measure over two 3/4 measures. The voice repeats the
line in the second of these measures, arching down and arriving on
the “dominant” harmony.
0:17 [m. 11]--Stanza 1, line 4. After the voice
arrives on the “dominant,” the piano abruptly shifts to the
distant key of C major, emphasized with a sudden forte
volume. The figurations are now reversed, with the right
hand playing the long-short rhythm, arching down, and the left
playing upward-arching figures in the long-short-short
rhythm. C-major harmony alternates with chords on its
“subdominant” F major. The phrasing shifts the meter forward
a beat. The voice enters after two measures with a
descending line in longer notes, with a strong “leaning”
resolution on “hast du.” After a breath, there is an upward
leap to a similar “leaning” resolution on “jüngst erst.”
These resolutions move harmonically from C to F and then from F
back to C.
0:24 [m. 16]--Stanza 1, line 5. The music has already
started to become quieter, and now it gradually slows as the final
line is sung twice and the metric sense is restored. The
voice moves immediately back to the home key for a straightforward
descent in the first statement. The piano is less direct,
lingering on “diminished” harmonies and the “relative” minor
harmony on F-sharp. The right hand descends on the
long-short rhythm while the left ascends on the
long-short-short. The piano arrests its motion as the voice
begins its second statement of the line, rising to match the
question in the text. The piano, in slow chords, plays a “plagal”
cadence to confirm the home key, then the right hand rises in
thirds (and a fourth) from the A-major chord.
0:33 [m. 20]--Stanza (strophe) 2, introduction. The
rising gesture just heard leads into a restatement of the
introduction as at the beginning of the song.
0:41 [m. 24]--Stanza 2, lines 1-3. The vocal part is
unchanged from the first stanza at 0:07 [m. 5]. The piano,
however, is subtly changed. It is marked pianissimo,
a quieter level than before, and the long notes are eliminated in
both hands. This results in a more continuous flow in the
right hand, but in the left, the constant long-short rhythm
results in upward arching figures over two beats, thus
anticipating the hemiola in line 3. The left hand
continues this pattern under line 3 itself, giving further
emphasis to the cross-meter effect. This change in the piano
for these lines is the only thing preventing an exact strophic
0:50 [m. 30]--Stanza 2, line 4. The motion to C major
restores the previous piano figuration, and the statement is as in
stanza 1 at 0:17 [m. 11]. The “leaning” resolutions are on
“bist wohl” and “auch noch.”
0:58 [m. 35]--Stanza 2, line 5. Slowing, quieting
twice-sung question, moving back home, as at 0:24 [m. 16].
The rising gesture in the right hand leads to the final statement
of the introduction music as a postlude.
1:09 [m. 39]--Postlude. The introduction music is
stated for a third time, the only change being at the end, where
the soft sighing gesture is replaced by an emphatic final cadence.
1:19--END OF SONG [42 mm.]
4. Maienkätzchen (Catkins). Text by Detlev
von Liliencron. Grazioso. Modified strophic form with
greatly extended second verse. E-FLAT MAJOR, 3/4 time (Low
key C major).
Maienkätzchen, erster Gruß,
Ich breche euch und stecke euch
An meinen alten Hut.
Maienkätzchen, erster Gruß,
Einst brach ich euch und steckte euch
Der Liebsten an den Hut.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1. In a two-bar introduction
beginning on an upbeat, the piano establishes a figure with a
chromatic downward-turning dotted (long-short) rhythm in thirds
that will become significant. The voice enters on the first
line with a rising arpeggio, downward leap, and upward skip.
The piano harmonizes, then partly imitates the line with harmonies
in thirds and sixths against a pulsing, syncopated left
hand. The second line resembles the first in the voice, with
an added breath break after “ich breche euch.” The right
hand begins an octave higher, then descends instead of
imitating. The third line is simply a descending arpeggio
and upward leap using slow and fast long-short rhythm against
detached piano chords.
0:13 [m. 8]--The stanza ends with a full cadence leading
into a brief interlude. A left-hand arpeggio leads to the
downward-turning dotted rhythm heard at the beginning, in the
tenor voice of the left hand at a new forte volume level,
the harmony moving to the “dominant.” The right hand has
punctuating downbeat/upbeat descending harmonies. After two
iterations of the rhythm, the hands reverse, with the right hand
playing it twice in thirds over left-hand chords, now back at a
quiet level. These are back in the home key, but the dotted
figures are a third higher than they were in the introduction.
0:23 [m. 13]--Stanza 2. The first line is sung and
accompanied as in Stanza 1. Instead of continuing
immediately to the second line, however, the singer lingers on
“erster Gruß,” repeating it in slower notes. Under this
lengthened repetition, the piano part surprisingly resembles its
continuation under the second line before. Brahms marks the
repetition sostenuto in both the piano and voice, and both
turn toward the “subdominant” key (A-flat).
0:30 [m. 17]--The second line is now sung to the
downward-turning dotted rhythm, back in the home key, and the
piano accompaniment, which doubles the voice, is almost exactly
the same as the last two measures of the interlude that preceded
the stanza. The third line has the same downward arch as
before, but it is higher, straightens out the fast long-short
rhythm, and ends with an incomplete and questioning “deceptive”
0:38 [m. 21]--The second and third lines are
repeated. The second line is a fifth higher (forcefully
beginning on the song’s highest pitch), over “dominant” harmony,
now without the right-hand doubling. The left hand takes the
lead with the rising dotted rhythm in a tenor line, and the right
has off-beat chords. The dotted rhythm on “steckte euch”
moves down a step, and the harmony again turns to the colorful
“subdominant” (A-flat). The third line is now tenderly sung
to the same notes as in the first stanza but stretched out to a
much broader half-quarter rhythm. The piano adds rests
between its chords here.
0:48 [m. 25]--Postlude. At the warm final vocal
cadence, the piano twice reiterates the now familiar and
comforting downward-turning dotted rhythm over left-hand
arpeggios, the second a fourth higher than the first (again
hinting at the “subdominant”). The left hand briefly drops
out as the right trails down in a preparatory arpeggio on the
“supertonic” (F) before the two rolled, detached forte
chords of the final cadence. Throughout the song, there has
been no hint of regret, only increasingly tender nostalgia.
1:02--END OF SONG [29 mm.]
5. Mädchenlied (Girl’s Song). Text by Paul
Heyse. Leise bewegt (With quiet motion). Modified
strophic form with coda-like final verse (AAA’B). B MINOR,
3/8 time (Middle key A minor, low key G minor).
(The title Mädchenlied is also used for Op. 85, No. 3 and
Op. 95, No. 6.)
Auf die Nacht in den Spinnstuben
Da singen die Mädchen,
Da lachen die Dorfbuben,
Wie flink gehn die Rädchen!
Spinnt jedes am Brautschatz,
Daß der Liebste sich freut.
Nicht lange, so gibt es
Kein Mensch, der mir gut ist,
Will nach mir fragen.
Wie bang mir zumut ist,
Wem soll ich’s klagen?
Die Tränen rinnen
Mir übers Gesicht -
Wofür soll ich spinnen,
Ich weiß es nicht!
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1 (A). The voice
begins on an upbeat, doubled and harmonized by the piano.
The singer moves up three notes, then descends four notes.
After an upturn, the same pattern is used a step higher for the
second line. The piano tumbles down and turns back up in
continuously “spinning” sixteenth notes, sometimes harmonized by a
sixth, fifth, or third. Each line is marked by a bass
punctuation on the downbeat. The third line seems as if it
will continue the pattern another step higher, but after the
upward rise, it falls in an arpeggio. The fourth line is
like the first, but the upbeat is on the first note of the
four-note descent (against an ascending piano) and the last word
is stretched out with a sighing gesture.
0:12 [m. 9]--As the voice completes the “sighing” gesture,
the piano plays an upbeat resembling the opening. A dolce
interlude begins with the last vocal note, the piano playing a
slower, extended descent in “weeping” detached notes over the
“spinning” upward arpeggios. This descent begins with an
emphasis on the “subdominant” E minor, then reaches down to the
tenor range before the upbeat to Stanza 2.
0:17 [m. 1, upbeat from m. 12]--Stanza (strophe) 2 (A).
Brahms uses a repeat sign for this stanza. There are some
changes to the declamation, such as the first upbeat being on one
word instead of two and the second on two words instead of one in
a simple reversal. Most notably, in the upturn at the end of
the second line, the word “freut” is used where the two-syllable
“Mädchen” had been before. The last two lines have the same
0:28 [m. 9]--Interlude as at 0:12.
0:35 [m. 13]--Stanza (strophe) 3 (A’). The
vocal line is essentially the same as in the first two stanzas,
but the upbeats are removed from the second and fourth lines and
replaced by rests. The piano is entirely different.
The “spinning” sixteenth notes are reversed in direction,
beginning with upward motion. With this reversal, the first
upbeat is not doubled, and the doubling of the second and third
upbeats is placed against the continuous motion rather than being
part of it. The same is true for the arpeggio in the third
line, which is now doubled and harmonized completely instead of
partially, over rising left-hand figures in meter-disrupting
two-beat groups. The spinning motion abruptly stops under
the last “lamenting” line.
0:45 [m. 21]--After the arrest of the motion under the last
line, the dolce interlude begins and continues as it had
after the first two stanzas. Its last measure adds a new
left-hand arpeggio, a turn to major, and a dotted rhythm in the
right hand, implying a forward-thrusting motion into the new music
of the last stanza.
0:50 [m. 25]--Stanza 4 (B). The first two
lines are expressively set to a continuous descent that begins in
major but turns to minor. This is accompanied by dolce
rising arpeggios in the “spinning” sixteenth-note motion.
These emphasize the “subdominant” harmony on E, first major, then
minor. The second line ends with a “plagal” motion back to
B, but the arrival is on B major, not minor. This motion is
echoed in a very brief interlude that uses the familiar “weeping”
detached notes. This suddenly builds in volume.
1:00 [m. 31]--The third line is set to an arpeggio
resembling the one in the other three stanzas, but the harmony is
new, on the remote D-sharp minor (a chord borrowed from the home
major key). The singer now cries out in despair, forte,
and the piano arpeggios and chords are again in the
meter-disrupting two-beat hemiola grouping. The
piano plays the familiar upbeat, and the singer, seemingly in the
home major key, presents the last line, beginning on the downbeat,
still forte. The piano has a strong accent on a very
colorful harmony that manages to suggest both the home major and
minor keys. The spinning arpeggios follow, but the singer
holds and suspends a note instead of completing the line’s typical
1:07 [m. 36]--With another upbeat lead-in from the piano,
the singer repeats the final line a step lower, now to the same
notes as in the other stanzas (particularly the third, without the
upbeat). It is quieter than the first statement as the
outcry of despair subsides. The piano again plays the
“spinning” motion. As in the first statement, however, the
“sighing” gesture is not completed, and the note that should
descend is again suspended and held. Finally, the spinning
motion is arrested, and the singer presents a third and final
statement of the last line to a simple but tragic descent from E
to B, again in minor, in slow full-measure notes. The piano
slowly plays and holds notes that result in a dissonant “ninth”
1:18 [m. 42]--Overlapping the singer’s final pathetic
descent, the piano emerges into the familiar interlude that has
been heard between each stanza, now serving as a postlude.
As a result of careful planning, the overlapping notes in the
voice exactly match those in the other stanzas. The
“weeping” detached notes lead where they have before, but as after
the third stanza, there is a soothing turn to the home major on
the last chord, which is held.
1:37--END OF SONG [45 mm.]
END OF SET
BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME