SIX QUARTETS FOR
SOPRANO, ALTO, TENOR, AND BASS, OP. 112
prepared his last set of vocal quartets for publication in 1891,
but it is likely that all six were composed earlier. The
obvious break between the two sophisticated Kugler settings and
the four Zigeunerlieder, which seem a supplement to Op. 103, did
not prevent Brahms from presenting them as a single entity, and
the artificial separation into “Op. 112a” and “Op. 112b” that is
sometimes seen did not stem from him. He sent them as a
complete group to Clara Schumann, simply calling them “six
quartets.” Still, the Zigeunerlieder were given
their own subheading and numbered as 1-4 as well as 3-6.
The set’s “anthology” character stems from its publication after
his announced “final” new composition, the G-major String
Quintet, Op. 111.
The Kugler settings may date from 1888, when he wrote his only
other setting of the poet, the first song “Ständchen” from Op. 106.
The Zigeunerlieder may have been written shortly after
the publication of Op. 103, perhaps for a planned full
second set. Brahms was deciding which of his outstanding
manuscripts were worth publishing. The 13 canons for
women’s voices, Op.
113, were another product of this “inventory,” as were
some publications without opus numbers, such as the huge
collection of 49
folksong arrangements. The six pieces are unified by
their genre and medium, but true to nature, Brahms was still
careful to ensure that they could be a “set.” They are
arranged in three pairs of pieces in D and F, first minor, then
major, then minor/major. The dark D-minor ending of the
spectral night piece “Nächtens” leads beautifully into the
joyous D-major outburst or “daybreak” of the first “gypsy song,”
whose opening text describes the brightly beaming sky. At
the same time, its opening two chords are the same ones that
open the last song from Op. 103, making it more than feasible
to perform an expanded set of 15 “gypsy songs.” The upward
shift from D-flat major of Op. 103, No. 11 to D major of Op.
112, No. 3 would be consistent with the abrupt key shifts within
Op. 103, No. 11 itself. These four Zigeunerlieder
are somewhat more formally complex than most of Op. 103,
suggesting a later composition, and Brahms did not arrange them
for solo voice. The last of the four makes an explicit
musical reference to the first. As for the two Kugler
settings, they are the darkest and most profound of all his
vocal quartets. “Sehnsucht” is an extended and evocative
masterpiece that makes the most of its brief text.
“Nächtens” is much shorter but is experimental and even
daring. It is the only piece in the entire Brahms oeuvre
to be set in real, committed 5/4 meter from beginning to end,
the brief modification to the 2+3 patterns in the postlude
notwithstanding. Its hushed but relentless piano tremolos
add to the extremely disturbed and agitated nocturnal mood, and
even the turn to major at the end hints at a hopeless daybreak,
which is wonderfully contradicted if the first Zigeunerlied
follows directly. In both Kugler pieces, the treatment of
the four voices in pairs is characteristic.
Recording: Edith Mathis, soprano; Brigitte Fassbaender, alto;
Peter Schreier, tenor; Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, bass; Peter
Engel, piano [DG 449 641-2]
Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily
Ezust’s site at http://www.lieder.net.
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)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP
(From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)
1. Sehnsucht (Longing). Text by Franz Theodor
Kugler. Andante. Expanded ternary form
(ABB’A’). F MINOR, 2/4 time.
(The title Sehnsucht is also used for the solo songs Op. 14, No. 8
and Op. 49,
Es rinnen die Wasser Tag und Nacht,
Deine Sehnsucht wacht.
Du gedenkest der vergangenen Zeit,
Die liegt so weit.
Du siehst hinaus in den Morgenschein
Und bist allein.
Es rinnen die Wasser Tag und Nacht,
Deine Sehnsucht wacht.
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction. The piano has a distinct
two voices split between the hands. The right hand has
straightforward descending thirds in eighth notes, establishing
the melancholy mood. The left hand has faster sixteenth
notes, some of which are held over strong beats and bar
lines. These reach up and zigzag down. The
synchronicity of the two voices is further disrupted in a second
statement, when the right-hand voice decorates its material with
clashing triplet rhythm. The two statements have the same
colorful harmonic progression in F minor. There is a
one-bar dolce extension of the last F-minor harmony.
0:11 [m. 6]--Lines 1-2 (A). The soprano and
alto enter with their halting initial statement of line 1, which
does not veer from F minor. They give out the first four
words almost with trepidation, adding dramatic pauses. The
last three words are set to a smoother arching line. The
voices are harmonized in thirds throughout and given a piano
accompaniment with smooth rising arpeggios.
0:18 [m. 10]--The tenor and bass take a turn at line 1,
overlapping with the women’s conclusion. They start in the
same place and in the same manner, but the vocal notes and the
accompaniment quickly deviate, shifting the harmony toward the
minor version of the “dominant” (C minor), using colorful
“seventh chords” in the accompaniment. In the smoother
last three words, they zigzag instead of arching, and expand to
sixths instead of thirds.
0:26 [m. 14]--The tenor and bass continue with their
statement of line 2, the bass initially lagging just behind the
tenor with its entry. Their first high long note on
“deine” is held over a descending “diminished seventh” harmony
in the piano, played in triplet rhythm. They continue and
conclude the line, zigzagging down with the tenor emerging into
a cadential turn figure. The piano, with broken bass
octaves leading to upper harmonies, remains in the triplet
rhythm. The voices point to an arrival on C minor, but
this is thwarted by the same “diminished seventh” chord, over
which the women start their overlapping statement.
0:35 [m. 18]--The soprano and alto appear to echo the
tenor/bass statement of the line, with the alto lagging behind
the soprano as the bass had lagged behind the tenor. The
notes are the same, sung over the descending “diminished
seventh” in triplets and the continuation in triplets.
Unexpectedly, the tenor, then the bass, enter quickly following
the alto. They extend the statement and change its
harmony. All the voices repeat “deine.” The soprano
and alto repeat “deine Sehnsucht,” having entered earlier than
the men. The alto even adds an extra “deine” as its faster
two-note figures trail behind the soprano. The harmony is
again colorful, and the arrival at the end of the seven-measure
phrase is an unexpected G-major chord.
0:50 [m. 25]--Lines 3-4 (B). The G-major
chord becomes a “dominant” seventh chord in a very unstable C
major. The tenor haltingly gives out the first two words
of line 3, “Du gedenkest,” in a rising chromatic line, all
half-steps. The bass overlaps and freely inverts the
chromatic line, adding one whole step. Overlapping with
this, the tenor concludes the line, reaching up and
descending. A sixth above, the soprano simultaneously
sings the rising chromatic line on “Du gedenkest.” The
alto inverts this as the bass had done, while the bass begins
its completion of the line with a descent and an upward
leap. The piano reiterates the long “dominant” chord on G
under all of this.
0:59 [m. 29]--Halfway through this measure, the tenor and
soprano join on the conclusion of the line, the tenor singing it
for the second time. The tenor has the chromatic line, but
the soprano soars and swells up to a slow descent. The
tenor’s continuation is in the same slow rhythm, but he only
reaches up at the end. At the same time, the bass is
finishing his extended conclusion. He holds a note, then
sings the inversion of the chromatic line, reaching and holding
the last word “Zeit” before the others. The alto is the
latest to begin the continuation, soaring up like the soprano
and quickly concluding with a chromatic descent. The piano
moves to arching triplets in the right hand. The goal
appears to be an arrival on C major.
1:04 [m. 32]--As the upper three voices converge on
“Zeit,” the arrival on C major is thwarted by the familiar
“diminished seventh,” descending in the piano in triplets
again. On that colorful harmony, the upper three voices
intone line 4. The bass trails behind a measure. As
the upper three voices shift up a half-step on “weit” and the
bass rises slowly by half-step to complete the line, the piano
has another descending arpeggio, this one beginning an octave
higher. It is not on the “diminished seventh,” but on the
“dominant” based on B-flat, which would seem to point to an
arrival on E-flat (“relative” to C minor), but this is quickly
converted to another “diminished seventh” by the bass line
rising from B-flat to B-natural.
1:13 [m. 36]--The piano does indeed reach E-flat in its
bass, but this is only part of a prolongation of the delayed
arrival on C, initially C minor. As the bass slides up on
“weit,” the other voices repeat the line, the bass quickly
joining them. The soprano is highly evocative here, with a
jagged but flowing line that again soars up. The other
voices are more static, but the tenor becomes more active as all
four voices reiterate “so weit,” giving those words a third
time. In the piano, the familiar broken bass octaves
leading to upper harmonies alternate C minor with another
“diminished seventh” (actually “half-diminished”), and at the
very end, as the voices make their final arrival on “weit,” the
harmony unexpectedly brightens to C major.
1:24 [m. 41]--Lines 5-6 (B’). Line 5 is
treated in a similar manner to line 3, with imitation and
inversion of short fragments. The C-major harmony becomes
a “dominant” seventh in the home key of F, similar to the
harmony under line 3. The bass begins, now with a
five-note gesture that rises, then drops a step on “Du siehst
hinaus.” The rising line is not completely by half-steps,
but it is chromatic. The tenor freely inverts the line
before the bass finishes. Before the tenor finishes, the
alto takes the original bass line an octave higher, and the bass
himself harmonizes her a sixth below. Finally, the soprano
overlaps with the inversion. The piano sustains the
“dominant” chord on C throughout.
1:32 [m. 45]--This passage is similar to 0:59 [m. 29],
but not quite as complex. The lower three voices all enter
to complete the line together, rising in harmony and overlapping
with the soprano’s conclusion of her fragment. As they
reach “Morgenschein,” the soprano belatedly follows them on the
rising line. The soprano’s soaring line here resembles the
previous passage at 0:59 [m. 29]. The other three voices
have new flowing lines, the tenor reaching high at the
outset. All complete “Morgenschein” together except for
the bass, who finishes the word earlier on a held low C.
The piano becomes active with harmonized triplets, but a
“straight” rhythm emerges in the bass and then in the upper
1:39 [m. 48]--An arrival back home on F would be expected
after the prolonged harmonies around C, but following the
previous pattern at 1:04 [m. 32], it is thwarted by the
“diminished seventh,” again descending in triplets in the
piano. It is a half-step lower than it was before.
The upper three voices intone line 6 as they had line 4, on the
“diminished seventh” harmony, but not distributed in the same
way. The bass enters late as before and rises
chromatically after the other three move up a half-step on the
second syllable of “allein.” The high descending arpeggio
is on a “dominant seventh” based on G-flat, suggesting an
arrival on B, a very distant harmony, but the conversion to an
unstable “diminished seventh” allows motion to F.
1:48 [m. 52]--This conclusion is analogous to 1:13 [m.
36], with subtle alterations. All the vocal lines resemble
their presentation there with slight changes, and their cadence
is extended by a measure to merge with the next section, a
reprise of the introduction. The extension allows the
entire line 6 to be stated two more times instead of one and a
half. In the familiar piano figures, again in triplet
rhythm with broken bass octaves leading to upper harmonies, the
“half-diminished” seventh chord is heard, but only once, and the
cadence in F minor is more full and complete, using “dominant”
harmony. It does not brighten to major.
1:58 [m. 57]--The vocal cadence in F minor, the home key,
merges directly into a full restatement of the piano
introduction, which is presented exactly as at the beginning.
2:09 [m. 62]--Lines 7-8 (A’). These lines
are textually an exact restatement of lines 1-2 and are treated
as a varied reprise. The soprano and alto sing exactly
what they did at 0:11 [m. 6], and the piano is also almost the
same. Now, however, the tenor and bass follow them in a
very close canon at a level a step above. As the
soprano and alto complete the line, the tenor and bass repeat
“Tag” before reaching high and following with the conclusion on
“und Nacht.” This merges with the soprano and alto
repeating all of “Tag und Nacht in a new extension that reaches
higher and prepares the continuation in the home key. The
tenor and bass then also repeat “und Nacht.” The
continuation for line 8 is now in F minor rather than C minor.
2:20 [m. 68]--The presentation of line 8 resembles that
of line 2 at 0:26 [m. 14], with the descending “diminished
seventh” in the piano. Now, however, the main melodic line
is presented by the soprano in F minor, including the cadential
turn, and all three of the other voices enter in succession with
supporting lines. Coming in later, the tenor and bass omit
the word “wacht” here. The soprano adds an additional
upper neighbor syncopation before the arrival cadence, which
this time is not thwarted, but merges with a new second
statement of the line.
2:29 [m. 72]--With the cadence comes a new and highly
elegant statement of the last line. The music of the piano
introduction returns, but now in the voices, and the melody
artfully intertwines between the soprano and alto. The
alto passes the first figure to the soprano, then takes it
back. The soprano then does the same with the triplet
figure, which is slightly different from those in the
introduction. The soprano repeats “deine” and the alto
repeats “deine Sehnsucht.” Meanwhile, the tenor and bass
support with longer notes in a single statement of the line, the
tenor reaching high in two yearning downward lines. The
piano has rising sixteenth-note arpeggios and off-beat
right-hand figures, mostly broken octaves.
2:36 [m. 76]--At another F-minor arrival point, the piano
suddenly breaks into one last “diminished seventh,” rising in a
bass arpeggio. The arpeggio continues, adding other notes
and rising into the high range. The voices, meanwhile,
state the last line one final time, beginning with the bass,
followed by the tenor and then the alto and soprano together,
all in longer notes against the arpeggio. They all sustain
“Sehnsucht,” stretching the first syllable out over a measure
and a half on a “half-diminished seventh” harmony, which is also
held in the right hand over another long rising left-hand
arpeggio. Brahms directs that the voices and piano should
rapidly diminish in volume and slow down.
2:46 [m. 80]--The voices finally resolve onto an F-major
chord (not minor) on “wacht,” the bass adding an extra leap from
the “dominant” to the keynote F. Later, the tenor moves up
from the third of the chord to the fifth (or “dominant”).
The voices hold this suddenly warm and soothing final harmony as
the piano reiterates the F-major chord three times, the first
one high over a low bass octave, the second one with both hands
moving inward, and then back out to the higher chord over the
low octave, the chord held with a fermata after the
voices cut off.
2:59--END OF QUARTET [82 mm.]
2. Nächtens (At Night). Text by
Franz Theodor Kugler. Unruhig bewegt (Restlessly
agitated). Ternary varied strophic form. D MINOR, 5/4
Nächtens wachen auf die irren,
Welche deinen Sinn verwirren.
Nächtens ist im Blumengarten
Reif gefallen, daß vergebens
Du der Blumen würdest warten.
Nächtens haben Gram und Sorgen
In dein Herz sich eingenistet,
Und auf Tränen blickt der Morgen.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1. The 5/4 meter is
treated as 2+3. In the first measure, the piano presents the
ominous melody that provides the thread between the verses.
The left hand rises, then falls in a faster rhythm over the first
two beats. The right hand, in the tenor range, repeats the
faster motion, then closes off the melody with two longer notes,
creating a three-beat unit. The piano then breaks into its
constant accompaniment, decorating the established melody with tremolo
32nd notes in the right hand, mezza voce,
against low bass notes. On the first line, the soprano and
tenor present a slow-moving, ghostly introductory melody over the
tremolo, staying in unison, sotto voce, until
breaking into a brief harmony at the very end.
0:13 [m. 4]--The alto and bass, in unison octaves, sing the
first two lines to the established melody, swelling in volume on
the second line and varying it to close with a
downward-leaping octave. Against this, the soprano, tenor,
and piano present the material just heard in the “introductory”
statement, the two voices singing their slower melody to line 2 as
the faster alto and bass present both lines. At the end, the
soprano and tenor exchange their previous harmonies, and the piano
tremolo is very slightly varied from the introductory
0:20 [m. 6]--Line 3 is presented to new material. The
alto and bass break into harmony, mostly thirds, with an arching
line, the bass slowing at the end of the line. The piano tremolo
decorates the alto’s upper melody. The soprano and tenor
then enter, also in harmony but not parallel, and give their own
statement of the text as the alto and bass (again mostly in thirds
until the end) repeat it without the first word “Welche.”
The piano tremolo here decorates the soprano until adding
two very brief eighth note breaks at the end. The melody is
highly agitated, swelling and receding on both statements.
The voices reach a full cadence.
0:28 [m. 8]--Stanza (strophe) 2. As the voices reach
their cadence, the piano restates its introduction before breaking
into tremolo again. This time, the soprano and tenor
in unison have a new idea, entering on the upbeat of the piano
introduction. It is faster, but still narrow in range, and
they sing both the first two lines together with the alto and
bass. After the soprano/tenor upbeat, the alto and bass
enter in their unison octaves to present the two lines to the
familiar melody. After a harmonic shift in line 1, the
second line dips down a third, moving from the firmly established
D minor down to B-flat minor. The tenor, omitting “daß
vergebens,” breaks off before the soprano, who extends her arrival
to the downbeat of the third line.
0:39 [m. 11]--The pairs change for line 3, with the tenor
and bass against the soprano and alto. The tenor and bass
sing a gentler dolce version of the original line 3
melody, mostly in thirds, but instead of all of line 3, they
repeat “daß vergebens” from the end of line 2 and then sing “Du
der Blumen.” The harmonic level remains on B-flat, shifting
to major, and the piano decorates the tenor line. The tenor
and bass then stretch out “würdest warten” in non-parallel lines
as the soprano and alto, harmonized mostly in thirds, sing the
entire line on faster notes, the piano decorating the soprano.
0:47 [m. 13]--The phrase is extended by a repetition of the
line. The soprano having delayed the arrival, the other
three voices now sing together in harmony. The piano tremolo
changes to slower rising triplet-rhythm arpeggios. The
soprano joins the other three on “würdest warten.” All
voices reach a cadence in B-flat major, somewhat brightening the
overwhelmingly dark mood.
0:50 [m. 14]--Stanza (strophe) 3. The piano again
states its introduction with the cadence, but it is varied.
The right hand takes both the two-beat and three-beat segments,
allowing the left hand to facilitate a rapid key change back to D
minor. The statement of the first two lines begins with the
alto and bass again in unison on the familiar melody. The
soprano and tenor again have a new idea. They sing together
but add harmonies on thirds or sixths, with some notes still
unison. They enter a beat after the alto and bass begin,
singing on faster notes and concluding each of the lines together
with them. During line 2, the soprano reaches high, and all
voices swell strongly in volume to forte, greatly
heightening the anxiety.
1:02 [m. 17]--All four voices now present the third line
together, remaining at the forte volume level. The
original melody in stanza 1 used a “diminished” arpeggio, and one
is used here, but now it is at a different level, hinting briefly
at the key of G minor (“relative” to the previous B-flat
major). The piano tremolo mostly shadows the soprano
line, but the tenor reaches high. The line is then repeated
by all voices with extra internal repetition. Back strongly
in D minor, the repetition reaches a powerful climax, the soprano
reaching her highest note. The words “auf Tränen” are
repeated before the line continues.
1:09 [m. 19]--Not including the cadence arrival, line 3 in
stanza 1 was two measures. In stanza 2 it was three.
Stanza 3 takes the extension even further, stretching it to four
measures before the cadence. After the repetition of “auf
Tränen,” the volume rapidly diminishes on “blickt der Morgen,” the
first syllable on “Morgen” sung with mild syncopation. Those
words are also repeated with the word “Morgen” now stretched to a
full measure. Under this measure, the piano tremolo
breaks four times for the length of an eighth note, heightening
the sense of reduced energy and anxiety toward dark resignation.
1:17 [m. 21]--The piano postlude is of course based on the
main melody. On the last vocal cadence, all voices end on D
except the tenor, who ends on the fifth A. The melody is
stretched out with a modification of the 5/4 meter. Two
two-beat units are followed by two three-beat units (I analyze
this as two interrupted 5/4 bars rather than as four measures of
2/4 and 3/4). The piano bass statement is delayed until the
beat after the vocal arrival. The right hand overlaps with
it on the original two-beat unit. The two three-beat units
are devoted to lengthened statements of last slower notes.
The second of these statements shifts up to create the final
cadence, which unexpectedly turns to major-key harmony at the last
moment, held with a fermata.
1:34--END OF QUARTET [22 mm.]
FOUR ZIGEUNERLIEDER (GYPSY SONGS). Texts translated from the
Hungarian by Hugo Conrat.
3. No. 1: “Himmel strahlt so helle und klar” (“The sky is beaming,
so bright and clear”). Allegro non troppo. Slightly
varied strophic form. D MAJOR, 2/4 time.
Himmel strahlt so helle und klar,
Heller strahlt mir dein Augenpaar.
Du meine Rose, mir ins Auge blick,
Daß ich dich segne in meinem Glück.
Vögleins Lied so lieblich erklingt,
Süß’res Lied mir mein Liebchen singt.
Du meine Rose, mir ins Auge blick,
Daß ich dich segne in meinem Glück.
Sonne küßt das ganze Erdenrund,
Heißer küßt mich dein Rosenmund.
Du meine Rose, mir ins Auge blick,
Daß ich dich segne in meinem Glück.
0:00 [m. 1]-Stanza (strophe) 1. Lines 1-2.
After two forceful “pre-dominant” and “dominant” piano chords
reminiscent of the last song (No. 11) from Op. 103, the
voices sing in full, jubilant harmony. In four-bar line 1,
the soprano begins high, and the line follows a downward
trajectory. The piano has chords with high and low
upbeat-downbeat left-hand motion. Seven-bar line 2 continues
with narrower motion and one slight offset between soprano/tenor
and alto/bass pairs in the first measure. The piano right
hand imitates the descent at the end of line 1 while the left
leaps to syncopated harmonies. The words “dein Augenpaar”
are joyously and forcefully repeated before a piano bridge with
undulating thirds in long-short rhythm.
0:15 [m. 13]--Lines 3-4. These lines are set to the
undulating patterns just heard in the brief bridge,
downward-dipping figures in long-short rhythm. The tenor and
bass lag a bit at the end of line 3, creating a
quasi-imitation. The second half of line 3 rises in pitch
and volume, and like line 1, it is four bars. The first half
of line 4 continues the pattern for its first half, rising again
in pitch, then reaches a forte climax on longer notes for
the last half of the line, “in meinem Glück.” The volume
recedes and the pitch descends as those words are repeated,
reaching a cadence in another seven-bar phrase. The piano
largely follows the vocal patterns, with a leaping, mildly
syncopated left hand that has straight downward leaps at the end.
0:26 [m. 23]--A piano interlude merges with the vocal
cadence, initially utilizing the undulating patterns, rising on
these for four bars and building in volume before reaching the two
opening chords, which are now stretched out to two full measures
against a leaping left hand. These lead into the second
0:33 [m. 29]--Stanza (strophe) 2. Lines 1-2.
The vocal lines follow the patterns from stanza 1 in line 1, but
the bass does not sing. The tenor mixes notes from the
original tenor and bass parts. The piano has a new tremolo
accompaniment figure that imitates the Hungarian cimbalom and
illustrates the birdsong described in the text. The left
hand has short figures that complement the right-hand tremolo.
In line 4, the soprano has the same notes, but the alto line
largely follows the previous tenor line, and the tenor takes notes
from both the alto and bass lines. The piano has syncopated
“chirping” figures. In the text repetition, the piano
follows the original melody while the vocal lines are changed in
contour. The bridge follows as before.
0:45 [m. 40]--Lines 3-4. The text and music are
identical to stanza 1 at 0:15 [m. 13].
0:56 [m. 50]--Interlude, as at 0:26 [m. 23].
1:03 [m. 56]--Stanza (strophe) 3. Lines 1-2.
The vocal parts are mostly as in stanza 1, but to compensate for
the extra syllable in line 1, the third measure, which has a
general descent, adds a note to each part, changing the rhythm to
four short notes instead of the previous short-short-long.
In the soprano and alto, a note is added to create a straight
descent where there had been a skip. The tenor and bass
simply split up their previous notes. The piano is also
slightly different, adding extra syncopated chords under line 1
and making the previous three-note descents under line 2, which
imitate the descent that was three notes and is now four, also
four-note descents. The familiar piano bridge follows as
1:15 [m. 67]--Lines 3-4. The first seven measures are
textually and musically as in the other two stanzas. From
the eighth measure, there is slight alteration in the alto, tenor,
and piano to lead into an extended repetition. Instead of
just “in meinem Glück,” the entire line 4 is repeated, extending
the phrase from seven to twelve bars. The voices steadily
descend, with the familiar downward leaps in the left hand of the
piano. They also recede in volume before they reach long
full-measure notes on “meinem Glück.” The cadence is more
complete as well, with the soprano on the keynote instead of the
third of the chord. Under the long notes, there are pauses
between the left-hand leaps. A sudden loud chord and low
bass octave end the song.
1:41--END OF QUARTET [83 mm.]
4. No. 2: “Rote Rosenknospen” (“Red rosebuds”). Allegretto
grazioso. Binary form (AA’BB’) with coda. F MAJOR, 2/4
künden schon des Lenzes Triebe.
Deuten Mädchens erste Liebe.
Kleiner roter Vogel,
Flieg herab zur roten Rose!
Bursche geht zum ros’gen
0:00 [m. 1]--Lines 1-2 (A). The voices sing
about the red rosebuds in tender harmony. The tenor, high in
his range, sings dolce. The piano has light
descending arpeggios off the beat with similarly light and
detached lower bass notes leading to higher harmonies in the
left. The right hand plays an off-beat chord at the end of
each measure after the arpeggio. Line 1 ends on F-major
harmony. The bass begins line 2 a beat early, but then moves
with the other voices. Approaching the end of the line as
the voices rise, the piano briefly breaks its pattern before the
last word, which stretches the phrase to five bars before ending
on “dominant” harmony. The piano harmonies rise in
preparation for the next line.
0:15 [m. 10]--Lines 3-4 (A’). The voice parts
are the same as in the first two lines at first as they describe
the red-cheeked maiden, comparing her to the rosebuds. The
contour of the voice parts is changed at the seventh measure
(third measure of line 4), with all voices changing their
direction to a general downward motion. The “dominant”
harmonic goal is the same. The piano figuration is similar,
but the arpeggios and left-hand notes are now marked as sustained
rather than detached. The bridging piano harmonies also
descend after the vocal arrival.
0:27 [m. 19]--Lines 5-6 (B). Line 5 is set to
a suddenly forceful, fully harmonized descending line beginning
with long-short rhythm. The piano follows the long-short
rhythm in the left hand with off-beat arching figures in the right
hand. The line is only two measures long. Line 6,
which is the same length as lines 2 and 4, is set to a rich and
soaring four-measure phrase. The soprano rises high, then
arches back down before leaping to the melodic conclusion.
The tenor reaches down and back up before descending with the
soprano, high in his range. The alto quickly arches up and
down, and the bass provides a solid foundation. The piano
right hand continues its patterns from line 5 over a straight and
0:36 [m. 25]--Lines 7-8 (B’). These lines are
complicated both by enjambment and a shorter second line.
Brahms begins line 7 like line 5, with the forceful harmonized
descending line, now with the piano doubling the voices in block
harmonies. The second measure continues the forceful
long-short rhythm in all voices where in line 5 it had only
continued in the tenor and bass. The enjambed word “Mädchen”
is included in the measure. The last word “kosen” is simply
set with rising soprano, falling bass, and static inner parts
ending on an octave C. The piano turns to off-beat two-voice
syncopated descents over a long-short left hand. These
continue, diminishing, two bars beyond the voices, completing the
0:44 [m. 31]--Coda. Instead of ending with the
unsatisfying short vocal phrase and trailing piano, Brahms
brilliantly decides to repeat the last two lines in a virtually a
cappella version. The piano quietly continues its
F-major harmony for three bars. The alto and bass begin on
the same octave C, holding over a bar line, then the soprano and
tenor join with opposing lines. The phrase combines the
rising elements from the A phrases with the descending
ones from the B phrases. At the midpoint, the piano
drops out completely for three bars. The beautiful phrase
closes with the soprano on the fifth of the chord. The piano
gently enters here, its right hand rising to the high keynote to
complete the melody before the final chord.
1:04--END OF QUARTET [38 mm.]
5. No. 3: “Brennessel steht am Weges Rand” (“Stinging nettles
stand at the side of the road”). Allegro. Modified
binary form (AA-bridge-BB’). F MINOR/MAJOR, 2/4 time.
Brennessel steht am Wegesrand,
Neider und Feinde hab’ ich in Stadt und Land.
Neidet, haßt, verleumdet,
doch das bringt mir keine Not,
Wenn mir nur mein süßes Liebchen
treu bleibt bis zum Tod.
0:00 [m. 1]--Lines 1-2 (A). The piano has a
forceful two-measure introduction. After an initial octave,
the following faster chords have internal and bass motion before
the top voice moves down, leading into the vocal entry. Both
lines are sung in passionate block harmonies, with descending
lines and upward leaps. The piano has rapid rising
sixteenth-note triplet arpeggios in six-note groups, along with
one straight eighth-note group under faster vocal notes in the
first bar. The first four-measure line ends on the
“relative” A-flat major harmony with an arching piano
arpeggio. The second line has five measures with straight
eighth-note groups in the first two, a more active and chromatic
tenor and alto, and a full F-minor closure.
0:13 [m. 3]--Lines 1-2 (A) repeated, back from m. 11
without the two-measure piano introduction.
0:22 [m. 12]--Lines 3-4 (transition). Line 3, with
only three strong syllables of negative words, is sung to a
powerful four-bar phrase with extreme chromatic motion. The
soprano descends entirely by half-steps, with longer notes on
“Neidet,” until adding one descending third at the end. The
other voices support the chromatic line, the bass moving faster
without the longer notes on “Neidet.” The bass already
starts line 4 as the other voices are completing the last measure
of line 3. The piano here has leaping bass octaves and
right-hand chords after the beats, all supporting the chromatic
harmony, which ends with a “diminished seventh” chord leading to
the “relative” A-flat major harmony.
0:26 [m. 16]--Line 4 is set to two four-bar phrases with
text repetition, moving from A-flat to “dominant” harmony on C
with a full shift from minor to major. The six-note rising
triplet arpeggios and the eighth-note groups (now alternating)
return in the piano. The bass, having begun earlier, sings
the full line twice in slower notes. The soprano also
repeats the full line except for “Doch.” The tenor and alto
begin later, having reached their line 3 arrival later, singing
shorter notes. The alto begins later and repeats the line in
segments, “doch das bringt” and “mir keine Not.” The tenor
adds an extra “das bringt.” All voices are together on the
final “mir keine Not,” and the piano loudly recalls the opening
vocal melody in major, reducing its left-hand arpeggios to four
and five notes, omitting the first note in its own bridge measure.
0:35 [m. 24]--Lines 5-6 (B). The key signature
changes to F major. The tenor tenderly sings the full text
of both lines, including a repetition of line 6, as a solo in a
continuous espressivo, mildly chromatic flowing motion,
with no notes or syllables on the downbeat. There are three
four-measure groups. The piano moves its main figures to the
right hand, with regular four-note arpeggios beginning off the
beat, the first one replaced by a rest. The left hand has
bass notes followed by higher harmonies. The vocal line
swells to forte at the repetition, then recedes. The
piano changes at the cadence to a straight downward motion.
The cadence merges with the next statement in the 13th bar, the
last word finally on a downbeat.
0:50 [m. 36]--Lines 5-6 repeated (B’). All
four voices now sing the flowing phrase in harmony, the soprano
taking the melodic line. The bass begins earlier, with the
tenor solo’s arrival, and remains ahead of the rest of the voices
on the text throughout the statement. Only he sings on the
downbeats, the others strictly following the rhythm of the
melody. The piano, marked molto dolce, now has full
four-note arpeggios in the left hand beginning on the beat.
The right hand doubles the harmonies of the melodic line in a high
register. The volume swells at the repetition, as expected,
and there is straight motion approaching the cadence, the voices
singing the last note on a downbeat and merging with the piano
1:03 [m. 48]--The piano postlude begins with the vocal
cadence. It continues its established patterns, effectively
extending the melody for two more measures. Then the left
hand suddenly returns to the faster six-note arpeggio from the
earlier section, but only once, and it is followed by two strong
closing F-major chords, the second one reaching lower with a bass
1:13--END OF QUARTET [51 mm.]
6. No. 4: “Liebe Schwalbe, kleine Schwalbe” (“Dear swallow, little
swallow”). Presto. Strophic form. D MINOR/MAJOR,
Liebe Schwalbe, kleine Schwalbe,
Trage fort mein kleines Briefchen!
Flieg zur Höhe, fliege schnell aus,
Flieg hinein in Liebchens Haus!
Fragt man dich, woher du kommest,
Wessen Bote du geworden,
Sag, du kommst vom treusten Herzen,
Das vergeht in Trennnungsschmerzen.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1. There is a tiny
introduction of two two-bar pianissimo chords. These
are the minor-key version of the two chords that begin Op. 112,
No. 3 and Op. 103, No. 11, a “pre-dominant” chord on E and a
“dominant” chord on A. The entire first verse is then given
by the alto as a breathlessly fast solo in a constant long-short
rhythm without any breaks, mezza voce. The piano
accompaniment largely follows the vocal line, but it adds
distinctive downward turning figures harmonized in thirds or
sixths under the second and fourth lines. The left hand has
bass notes and harmonies on the beats. The verse concludes
with an upward octave leap over the “dominant” harmony before the
shift to major.
0:15 [m. 21]--The last two lines are sung again as a
major-key refrain for all the voices. The melody is nearly
identical to the undulating patterns in the refrain used for the
recurring text in the second half of each verse from the first of
these four Zigeunerlieder, “Himmel strahlt so helle und
klar.” It is given by the soprano and tenor in
harmony. The entire third line is sung twice. The alto
and bass, meanwhile, sing a constantly repeated A as a “pedal
point” in longer half notes, only singing the text once, ending it
as the soprano and tenor end their second statement.
Everything remains very quiet, sotto voce. The piano
mostly doubles the soprano/tenor harmony, but reiterates the A
pedal in the right hand and broken bass octaves.
0:20 [m. 29]--For the reprise of the fourth line, the alto
joins the soprano and tenor motion, harmonizing with them, leaving
the bass alone on the A “pedal point.” The line begins with
colorful “diminished” harmonies. Only the words “Flieg
hinein” are repeated. The bass, on its longer notes, only
sings those words once, but comes together with the other voices,
who slow down on “Liebchens Haus.” The bass moves off its
constantly repeated A for one note in a cadence motion toward a
sustained half-close on “dominant” harmony. The soprano
rises on the word “Haus,” and it is sustained with a fermata.
The piano again doubles the vocal harmonies and helps reiterate
the “pedal point” A in both hands as before.
0:27 [m. 37]--Stanza (strophe) 2. The two
introductory chords are not repeated. The entire verse is
presented again in minor, as in stanza 1. This time, the
solo alto melody is joined and harmonized by the tenor in the
typical thirds or sixths as a duet. Still very quiet, the
verse is marked molto piano e sempre dolce. The
piano’s right hand is as before, but the left hand is now much
more active. It is in constant motion, playing ascending or
descending arpeggios, wide leaps, and downward-arching
lines. At the end of the verse, the soprano and bass join
the harmony on the word “Sag,” leading into the major-key refrain.
0:37 [m. 53]--The major-key refrain beginning with the
repeated line 3 is presented as in stanza 1 at 0:15 [m. 21], with
the same patterns of text repetition and the “pedal point” A in
the alto and bass. The only difference is in the piano’s
left hand, which still reiterates the “pedal point” A in broken
octaves but heightens their activity by adding reiterations off
the beat for an after-beat effect.
0:42 [m. 61]--Refrain continuing on line 4, as at 0:20 [m.
29] in stanza 1. The alto joins the harmony, and the bass
continues on the “pedal point” A, as before. The words “Das
vergeht” are repeated in the upper three voices. The left
hand of the piano continues to add the off-beat or after-beat
reiterations. This time the “dominant” harmony moves toward
a full closure in the home D-major key, an extension happily
facilitated by an extra syllable in the line.
0:47 [m. 69]--As the voices extend their line to the
cadence, the piano continues the predominant long-short harmonies
as a brief postlude, reaching high in the right hand with
left-hand chords on the weak second beats. The final piano
cadence is unusual, moving from the “pre-dominant” chord on E
directly to the rolled and held home-key “tonic” chord, a nod to
the opening progression of this song and the first one of this Zigeunerlieder
group (Op. 112, No. 3), providing another connecting link between
the two songs.
1:03--END OF QUARTET [74 mm.]
END OF SET AND SUBSET
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