TWELVE SONGS AND ROMANCES (LIEDER UND ROMANZEN) FOR FOUR-VOICE WOMEN’S CHORUS WITH (OPTIONAL) PIANO ACCOMPANIMENT, OP. 44
Recording: Women of the North German Radio Chorus, conducted by Günter Jena; Gernot Kahl, piano [DG 449 646-2]

Published 1866.

This set of secular songs for female chorus completes the line of pieces composed for Brahms’s Hamburg women’s choir (except for the special case of the Op. 113 canons).  Published significantly later than they were written, the songs are of slighter scope than the other choral works released around the same time.  In fact, they could be aptly described as choral miniatures, since none of them lasts much longer than two minutes in performance.  Four parts are indicated in all the songs, although in some, particularly the sequence of four settings from Heyse’s Jungbrunnen, the altos remain in unison much of the time.  As in some of Brahms’s other short pieces for women’s choir, the second alto parts often reach into dangerously low territory, such as at the end of each strophe in No. 1.  An interesting question in performances of the songs is whether or not to include the piano accompaniment.  Brahms almost never wrote works for choir with piano accompaniment.  A few, such as Op. 27 and Op. 30, have organ parts.  The piano does play a large role in the vocal quartets, which are often sung by small choirs.  But the role of the piano in Op. 44 is unique.  Brahms indicated that the pieces were to be sung either a cappella or with optional piano accompaniment.  But the piano parts he provided, while simple and often offering basic harmonic support, rarely merely double the vocal lines.  In fact, in certain songs, the piano actually adds a new and interesting element.  The varied accompaniment to the last two strophes of No. 1 is an obvious example, as is an isolated anticipatory repeated note after the first phrase of No. 7.  The arpeggios and oscillating motion of No. 12 add an entirely new layer to the canonic voices of No. 12.  Performances are therefore enhanced when the piano parts are included. (This recording, despite a moment of questionable declamation at the beginning of No. 2, has the advantage of including the piano.)  The set of twelve is arranged in two books of six, with the Jungbrunnen songs opening Book II.  The most substantial song is No. 2, which is virtually through-composed.  No. 3 has a memorable repeated refrain.  Often, Brahms introduces subtle variations to strophic settings in the last verse, as in Nos. 4 and 6.  No. 12 is another brilliant piece of canonic writing on the same level as those in the sacred choruses of Op. 37.  Except for the folk texts of Nos. 3 and 4, all are settings of fairly major German poets.  Of some interest is that two poets famous for great song cycles of Schumann and Schubert, Chamisso and Müller, are represented in the penultimate song of each book. 


Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily Ezusts site at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder.  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)
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche Werke)


BOOK I:
1. Minnelied (Love Song).  Text by Johann Heinrich Voss.  Con moto.  Simple strophic song (with embellished accompaniment in last two stanzas).  E MAJOR, 3/8 time.
(The title Minnelied is also used for the solo song Op. 71, No. 5.)

German Text:
Der Holdseligen sonder Wank
sing’ ich fröhlichen Minnesang,
denn die Reine, die ich meine,
winkt mir lieblichen Habedank.

Ach, bin inniglich minnewund,
gar zu minniglich küßt ihr Mund,
lacht so grüßlich, lockt so küßlich,
daß mir’s bebt in des Herzens Grund.

Gleich der sonnigen Veilchenau
glänzt der Wonnigen Augen Blau.
Frisch und ründchen blüht ihr Mündchen
gleich der knospenden Ros’ im Tau.

Ihrer Wängelein lichtes Rot
hat kein Engelein, so mir Gott!
Eia! säß ich unablässig
bei der Preislichen bis zum Tod!

English Translation (Note: Brahms switched stanzas 2 and 3, as above.  In the translation, the stanzas should be switched to match the music.  The last stanza given in the poem here is simply a repetition of the first, which Brahms did not indicate should be performed.)

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 1.  Each line begins with a downbeat rest, so the voices begin off the beat.  The first two lines have the same contour up and down, but the second is first two steps, then one step lower, the shift coming through artful repeated notes, along with a chromatic line in the second sopranos.  Each line is three bars long.  The harmony is rich and full, and the second altos are unusually low.  The second line ends on a half-close.  The piano mostly follows the voices, but not with the same exact voicing.
0:11 [m. 7]--The third line is stretched to four measures, reflecting the structure of the poem, where the third line of each stanza has an internal rhyme.  Brahms stretches out the rhyming syllables.  There are two two-bar units, each beginning with a downbeat rest.  The first of these is the high point of the verse.  The second sopranos continue their beguiling half-step motion.  The piano introduces its extremely subtle, but effective variation from the voices as it plays a bottom note on the downbeat before the second two-bar unit, anticipating repeated notes in the second altos.  The phrase hints at the related minor key, then ends on a colorful F-major chord, a half-step above the keynote E.  The fourth line is similar to the first two, its range and contour being somewhat midway between them.  It reaches a full cadence, now with chromatic motion in the first altos.  The second altos end on a deep, earthy low E.
0:24 [m. 1]--Stanza (strophe) 2.  Lines 1 and 2, with music and declamation as in stanza 1.
0:33 [m. 7]--Lines 3 and 4, with music and declamation as in stanza 1.
0:46 [m. 14]--Stanza (strophe) 3.  The vocal parts are unchanged, but Brahms now includes a completely new piano part.  The bottom lines in the left hand remain similar, but they do reach lower into the bass at the end of the second line.  The right hand now has flowing figures that move twice as fast as the voices.  At the end of each of the first two lines, the right-hand harmonies follow the left hand after the beat.
0:56 [m. 20]--The third line continues the pattern, with the flowing right-hand lines entering off the beat for each half of the phrase.  As in the other stanzas, the left hand enters alone on the downbeat before the second two-bar unit, but now it leaps down an octave in the second bar.  The fourth line follows the pattern of the first two, but the left hand is now in the low bass, and it enters on the downbeat before the voices, as in the second part of the third line.  It did not do this in the first two stanzas.
1:08 [m. 14]--Stanza (strophe) 4.  Lines 1 and 2, with music, declamation, and piano part as in stanza 3.
1:17 [m. 20]--Lines 3 and 4, with music, declamation, and accompaniment as in stanza 3.
1:31--END OF SONG [26 mm. (x2)]


2. Der Bräutigam (The Bridegroom).  Text by Josef Karl Benedikt von Eichendorff.  Allegro.  Combination of strophic and through-composed (or varied strophic) form (AAA’B).  E-FLAT MAJOR, 6/8 time.


German Text:
Von allen Bergen nieder
So fröhlich Grüßen schallt -
Das ist der Frühling wieder,
Der ruft zum grünen Wald!

Ein Liedchen ist erklungen
Herauf zum stillen Schloß -
Dein Liebster hat’s gesungen
Der hebt Dich auf sein Roß.

Wir reiten so geschwinde,
Von allen Menschen weit. -
Da rauscht die Luft so linde
In Waldeseinsamkeit.

Wohin? Im Mondenschimmer
So bleich der Wald schon steht. -
Leis rauscht die Nacht - frag’ nimmer,
Wo Lieb’ zu Ende geht!

English Translation
 
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  With no introduction, the sopranos forcefully shoot upward in an arpeggio of the E-flat chord while the altos begin to provide a solid harmony.  The sopranos separate at “Bergen,” then continue upward to the end of the line.  The second line is the same, but without the last syllable and note.  The piano provides punctuating, largely doubling chords.  The third line begins without the first sopranos.  The seconds oscillate around the keynote while the altos descend.  The first sopranos enter after one bar, also on the oscillating line up a step, and the harmony emphasizes C minor as the line concludes.  The lower three voices must repeat “der Frühling.”  The piano doubles everything except the oscillating line.
0:14 [m. 8]--The last line is greatly extended.  All voices sing “der ruft” in harmony, then the altos echo it on a half-step in octaves.  The sopranos then sing the next two syllables in harmony, echoed by the altos on the same half-step.  This happens a third time, the sopranos completing the line on a cadence, but echoed by the same octave half-step.  The entire line is then repeated, the sopranos beginning in long notes with the altos following in faster motion, still emphasizing the same half-step, until they come together.  The sound is rich and full.  Finally, in a flowing cadence gesture, the sopranos repeat “zum grünen Wald” and the altos repeat the whole line again.  The piano adds to the sopranos’ harmony on the two-note gestures and provides a lower bass to the alto half-steps.
0:27 [m. 1]--Stanza 2.  This is indicated with repeat signs, and the first three lines are as in stanza 1, with the repeated text for the lower parts in the third line being “dein Liebster.”
0:38 [m. 8]--The extended last line follows the pattern of stanza 1, beginning with “der hebt.”  The last partial repetition in the sopranos is “dich auf sein Roß.”
0:52 [m. 16]--Stanza 3.  The first two lines are as in stanzas 1 and 3.  Then, with the third line, there is a dramatic change.  The voices are suddenly hushed.  The second sopranos begin their oscillation, as before, but the altos below them greatly alter their harmony, moving toward A-flat major, to which the second sopranos must conform.  When the first sopranos enter, they are on the same pitches as the seconds, not a step higher.  The words “so linde,” repeated in the lower voices, are suddenly stretched out, extending the phrase by a bar.  In addition, the speed itself is slowed, and the song has apparently become more “serious.”
1:05 [m. 24]--The last line, instead of being given the elaborate extensions and alternating syllables from the first two stanzas, is modestly set only once, as a phrase moving the harmony back to a cadence in the home key.  The second altos retain a memory of the pervasive half-step.  This is followed by a pause of a full measure before the final stanza’s dramatic entrance.
1:15 [m. 28]--Stanza 4.  The sopranos abruptly call in a loud unison on the question “Wohin?”  The piano does not play under them.  It joins with the altos, who repeat it in harmony, along with the second sopranos, as the first sopranos hold their note.  They are suddenly quiet again.  The line is then completed in a descending line with harmony that moves to the minor key.  The voices pause, then sing the second line in more low, colorful harmonies that begin to suggest the “dominant” minor key, B-flat.  They slow down.  There is another full-measure pause.
1:31 [m. 37]--For the third line, the sopranos and altos alternate, both in harmony, in the style of a call and response.  They each sing “Leis rauscht die Nacht” twice.  The key seems to fluctuate between B-flat major and E-flat major.  The voices are still quiet, but are animated, as Brahms indicates.  The piano plays bare octaves and thirds under them.  As the altos sing their second response, the sopranos continue with “frag’ nimmer,” completing the line.  The altos then join them in a repetition, growing in volume.  The key continues to oscillate between B-flat and E-flat, and the piano only plays long chords.
1:41 [m. 43]--The last line continues the musical phrase, reaching its high point in pitch and volume, then descending and slowing.  It ends on the “dominant” chord, finally creating the expectation of the home key, E-flat.  The voices, remaining strong but continuing to slow dramatically, repeat the last line.  The sopranos begin, with the altos following closely after.  The top three voices descend broadly, stretching out “Lieb’” as they quiet down.  The second altos, however, bring back a remembrance of their pervasive half-step, adding a repetition of “wo Lieb’.”  The line is completed, with chromatic notes in the sopranos on “zu.”  The second altos continue their obsessive half-step on these last words, repeating it a total of seven times before finally joining the three upper voices in the final cadence, moving there after they complete it.  In this last repetition, the piano follows the voices and again adds a low bass to the half-step.
2:03--END OF SONG [48 mm.]


3. Barcarole .  Text by Karl Witte after an Italian folk source.  Allegretto grazioso.  Simple strophic form with refrain.  E MAJOR, 6/8 time. (The solo altos in the recording are unidentified.)

German Text:
O Fischer auf den Fluten, Fidelin!
Komm schnell zu fischen her!
Refrain:
 Und auf seinem schmucken Kahne,
 auf dem Kahne rudert er.
 Fidelin linla.

“Was willst du, daß ich fische?” Fidelin!
Mein Ringlein fiel ins Meer.
(Refrain)

Dir lohnt die schönste Börse, Fidelin!
von hundert Talern schwer.
(Refrain)

“Nicht will ich deine Börse, Fidelin!
von hundert Talern schwer.”
(Refrain)

“Ein liebevolles Küßchen, Fidelin!
ein Kuß ist mein Begehr.”
(Refrain)

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  Two solo altos begin a cappella.  They sing the first line in so-called “horn fifth” harmony, which, along with the 6/8 meter, lends the piece a mild echo of a hunting song.  The full choir joins on the refrain interjection, “Fidelin!” along with the piano in a graceful punctuating descent.  The a cappella solo altos then take the second line in similar “horn fifth” harmonies, but with a mild harmonic shift that points to A major for the beginning of the refrain.
0:12 [m. 6]--Refrain.  The full choir joins with the piano for the refrain.  The peaceful rocking rhythm, beginning halfway through the preceding measure, dispels the mild hunting echo.  The four parts are in full harmony throughout the first part of the refrain.  At the repetition of “auf dem Kahne” is again the mildly dissonant turn, now suggesting F-sharp minor.  The climax, full but still tender, comes on “rudert er.”  Those words are repeated by all voices, with the second sopranos and first altos trailing as an echo, adding an additional repetition of “rudert.”  The completion of the phrase by these middle voices overlaps with the beginning of the last phrase on “Fidelin linla.”
0:20 [m. 10]--The outer parts, first sopranos and second altos, gently sing “Fidelin linla.”  They are echoed and overlapped by the middle parts.  The outer voices enter again to punctuate the final “linla.”  In this closing phrase, the piano is reduced to supporting chords on the two statements of “linla.”
0:31 [m. 1]--Stanza 2.  Alto solos with “Fidelin” interjection.
0:41 [m. 6]--Refrain.  Text and music as at 0:12.
0:49 [m. 10]--Closing phrase on “Fidelin linla,” as at 0:20.
1:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 3.  Alto solos with “Fidelin” interjection.
1:10 [m. 6]--Refrain.  Text and music as at 0:12 and 0:41.
1:18 [m. 10]--Closing phrase on “Fidelin linla,” as at 0:20 and 0:49.
1:28 [m. 1]--Stanza 4.  Alto solos with “Fidelin” interjection.
1:38 [m. 6]--Refrain.  Text and music as at 0:12, 0:41, and 1:10.
1:46 [m. 10]--Closing phrase on “Fidelin linla,” as at 0:20, 0:49, and 1:18.
1:56 [m. 1]--Stanza 5.  Alto solos with “Fidelin” interjection.  In this performance, they are sung somewhat more slowly and tenderly than before.
2:06 [m. 6]--Refrain.  Text and music as at 0:12, 0:41, 1:10, and 1:38.
2:14 [m. 10]--Closing phrase on “Fidelin linla,” as at 0:20, 0:49, 1:18, and 1:46.
2:26--END OF SONG [14 mm. (x5)]


4. Fragen  (Questions).  Text by Anastasius Grün after a Slovenian folk source.  Sehr lebhaft und rasch (Very lively and rapidly).  Two strophes with coda (Bar form).  C MAJOR, 6/8 time.
(The title Fragen is also used for the vocal quartet Op. 64, No. 3.)

German Text:
Wozu ist mein langes Haar mir dann,
wenn ich kein Band drein flechten kann?
Wozu ist mein Füßchen mir flink und fein,
darf tanzen ich nicht mit dem Liebsten mein?
Wozu ist mir nur die weiße Hand,
darf ich nicht halten den Liebsten umspannt?
Wozu mein Aug mir so schwarz und scharf,
wenns nicht mehr den Liebsten erspähen darf?
Wozu sind mir die Gedanken mein?
Zu denken, mein Liebster, allimmer dein!

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Strophe 1.  All voices sing the first two lines (the first question) in rich, ebullient harmony with piano bass and support.  The 6/8 motion, beginning with an upbeat, is excited and rapid.  The first sopranos have a light embellishment as the voices approach a half close at the end of the phrase.
0:09 [m. 5]--The third and fourth lines (the second question) are presented in imitation, with the two soprano parts following the two alto parts at the distance of half a bar and with overlapping text.  While the second altos and second sopranos provide harmony with no direct imitation, the first sopranos follow the first altos at the distance of a sixth until the end of the second line, where all the voices come together on another half close as the altos repeat “dem Liebsten.”  The piano essentially doubles the vocal lines.
0:19 [m. 11]--Strophe 2.  The fifth and sixth lines (the third question) are sung to the same music as the first question, with a slight, but significant alteration at the very end.  Both soprano parts reach a step higher in the last bar (on “Liebsten”) before they descend to the half close, slightly increasing the urgency.  The piano changes slightly to follow them.  There are also alterations based on syllabification.  The second altos have slight changes in their line.
0:27 [m.15]--The seventh and eighth lines (the fourth question) are sung in imitation to the same music as the third and fourth lines, as at 0:09 [m. 5].
0:37 [m. 21]--Coda.  The voices come together and begin the pivotal final question with an abrupt shift to B-flat major, becoming louder and more animated.  The words “die Gedanken mein” are repeated.  The voices move back home to C for the first statement of the last line, becoming even more exuberant.
0:45 [m. 26]--The last phrase begins as if it will be a repetition of “allimmer dein” similar to the repetition of “die Gedanken mein.”  It is, however, extended and stretched out to bring the song to a close.  The outer voices, first sopranos and second altos, sing “allimmer” twice, with the first sopranos broadly descending and the second altos in wide leaps, the piano providing a bass an octave below them.  The middle voices sing “allimmer dein” twice in faster motion.  The first altos, who delayed their completion of the first statement of the line, trail behind the second sopranos in a brief canon.  All voices except the first altos come together on a final statement of “allimmer, immer dein” for the concluding cadence.  The first altos, who are trailing, eliminate the extra “immer.  Throughout the coda, the piano follows the voices.
0:58--END OF SONG [29 mm.]


5. Die Müllerin (The Mill Maid).  Text by Adelbert von Chamisso.  Allegro.  Strophic form (AA’AA’).  C MINOR, 6/8 time.

German Text:
Die Mühle, die dreht ihre Flügel,
Der Sturm, der sauset darin,
Und unter der Linde am Hügel,
Da weinet die Müllerin:

Lass sausen den Sturm und brausen,
Ich habe gebaut auf den Wind;
Ich habe gebaut auf Schwüre --
Da war ich ein törichtes Kind.

Noch hat mich der Wind nicht belogen,
Der Wind, der blieb mir treu;
Und bin ich verarmt und betrogen --
Die Schwüre, die waren nur Spreu.

Wo ist, der sie geschworen?
Der Wind nimmt die Klagen nur auf;
Er hat sich auf’s Wandern verloren --
Es findet der Wind ihn nicht auf.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  The first two lines are sung in a forceful, aggressive unison, with the altos an octave below the sopranos in the swaying 6/8 motion, with upbeat, that has dominated the song set so far.  The remaining two lines are sung in harmony and more subdued, the altos beginning a half-bar before the sopranos, lengthening their notes after the sopranos enter.  All voices finish the phrase together.  The altos are in two parts from the beginning of the phrase, while the sopranos only split at the very end at the cadence.  The piano supports and doubles the unison phrase and the second, harmonized phrase.
0:17 [m. 9]--Stanza 2.  The first phrase, formerly sung in unison, is greatly altered.  It is also now sung in harmony, with only the first sopranos maintaining the previously unison melody.  The first altos harmonize directly with them throughout.  On the first line, the second sopranos and second altos introduce a rollicking octave leap depicting the blustering wind, which is also taken by the piano.  At the second line, the second altos join the first altos in unison while the second sopranos add a third line of harmony, also incorporated into the piano part.  This leads into the second phrase (the last two lines), which is unchanged from the first stanza other than an indication that it is supposed to be louder than it was there.
0:33 [m. 1]--Stanza 3.  Sung to the same music as stanza 1, with one slight change in declamation in the last line where “waren” is assigned to two notes formerly given to one syllable.
0:48 [m. 9]--Stanza 4.  Sung to the same music as stanza 2 (with harmonized first phrase and the octave leap in the second soprano and alto parts), with two notes assigned to the second word, “ist,” that had previously been given to the two syllable “sausen.”
1:06--END OF SONG [16 mm. (x2)]


6. Die Nonne (The Nun).  Text by Johann Ludwig Uhland.  Andante.  Strophic form with altered harmonies in last verse.  G MINOR, 4/4 time.

German Text:
Im stillen Klostergarten eine bleiche Jungfrau ging.
Der Mond beschien sie trübe,
An ihrer Wimper hing
Die Träne zarter Liebe.

“O wohl mir, daß gestorben der treue Buhle mein!
Ich darf ihn wieder lieben:
Er wird ein Engel sein,
Und Engel darf ich lieben.”

Sie trat mit zagem Schritte wohl zum Mariabild;
Es stand im lichten Scheine,
Es sah so muttermild
Herunter auf die Reine.

Sie sank zu seinen Füßen, sah auf mit Himmelsruh’,
Bis ihre Augenlider
Im Tode fielen zu:
Ihr Schleier wallte nieder.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  The minor-key setting is tender, but intensely sad in expression.  The first long line is given in two short phrases with upbeats, the second altos on low bell-like repeated notes.  The piano effectively restricts itself to two-chord groups on the upbeats and downbeats.  The shorter second and third lines are set to the same short phrase, with even sparer piano chords.  The third line leads directly into the fourth, in which both sopranos parts make a dramatic upward leap (harmonized in thirds) before the altos follow.  The completion of the phrase is poignantly drawn out, the piano now full and comforting.
0:39 [m. 1]--Stanza 2.  Repeat signs are indicated for the ten-bar stanza in the second and third verses.  The only change in declamation is the replacement of the two-syllable “eine” with a single syllable (“der”).
1:17 [m. 1]--Stanza 3.  Again indicated with a repeat.  Declamation as in stanza 2.
1:56 [m. 11]--Stanza 4.  For the final verse, with its vivid imagery, the harmony is significantly changed, and even the melody includes a few major-key inflections.  The long first line now has a sort of major-minor mixture with some very close and dissonant harmonies, and the piano already abandons its austere two-chord groups in the second half of the line.  The second altos remain on their bell-like low notes even longer.  Brahms indicates a quieter presentation.
2:09 [m. 15]--The second line is as in the first three stanzas, but the piano now accompanies fully and the singing becomes slower and softer.  A piano bass note, not heard in the other stanzas, bridges it to the third line.  This third line is not identical as it was before.  It introduces the major-minor mixture and a lower second alto line on repeated bell tones.  The final line is also subtly altered.  The second sopranos do not move up with the first sopranos on the leap, but create a wider held harmony of a sixth before the alto entrance.  The major-minor mixture is preserved, and the verse concludes with a transfigured major chord.
2:40--END OF SONG [20 mm. ([10x3]+10)]


BOOK II:
7. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen (Four songs from the collection Der Jungbrunnen), No. 1: “Nun stehn die Rosen in Blüte” (“Now the roses are blooming”).  Text by Paul Heyse.  Allegro.  Simple strophic form.  E MAJOR, 3/8 time.

German Text:
Nun stehn die Rosen in Blüte,
Da wirft die Liebe ein Netzlein aus,
Du schwanker, loser Falter,
Du hilfst dir nimmer heraus.

Und wenn ich wäre gefangen
In dieser jungen Rosenzeit,
Und wär’s die Haft der Liebe,
Ich müßte vergehen vor Leid.

Ich mag nicht sehen und sorgen;
Durch blühende Wälder schweift mein Lauf.
Die lustigen Lieder fliegen
Bis in die Wipfel hinauf.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  The first two lines are sung to a buoyant phrase in full harmony that reaches a half-close.  The piano initially has punctuating chords on the upbeats and downbeats, then follows the voices more closely at the end of the phrase.
0:10 [m. 9]--The piano plays an isolated upbeat and downbeat on an octave B, which is used to pivot to G major.  The first statement of the last two lines is in that key.  The phrase is sung mostly in unison and mostly a cappella after the bridging piano octaves.  Each line begins quietly in unison on an arching melody, growing to forte on the last word (“Falter” or “heraus”), where the voices split into harmony for two chords supported by piano.  These chords confirm the new key of G major.  The first sopranos reach higher, supported by a more dissonant chord, at the end of the last line on “heraus.”
0:20 [m. 18]--The last two lines are repeated with full harmony in voices and piano.  The key shifts directly back to E major  in the second bar as the music swells to a full forte and the first sopranos reach a climactic high note on the extended “Falter.”  They reach even higher in the last line on the word “nimmer,” which is also extended.  A bar of silence after the cadence, before the upbeat of the next verse, creates another nine-bar phrase like the previous G-major one.
0:30 [m. 1 (upbeat of m. 26)]--Stanza 2.  The first two lines are presented as in stanza 1.
0:37 [m. 9]--The piano octaves again introduce the G-major phrase from 0:10 for the last two lines.  The climactic words are now the potent “Liebe” (“love”) and “Leid” (“sorrow”).  A new dotted rhythm is added for the extra syllable on “müßte,”
0:47 [m. 18]--Repetition of the last two lines, as at 0:20.  No rhythm change is needed for “müßte,” since “hilfst” was set to two notes here.
0:57 [m. 1 (upbeat of m. 26)]--Stanza 3.  The first two lines are given as in the previous verses.  There is an extra syllable (on “blühende”), but no musical changes are required to accommodate it.
1:04 [m. 9]--Again the piano octaves and G-major phrase, as at 0:10 and 0:37.  The number of syllables is as in stanza 1, but the declamation of the words on “bis in die Wipfel hinauf” requires that the dotted rhythm from stanza 2 be retained and the preceding upbeat be dropped, so that the line begins on the downbeat.  The climactic words are “fliegen” and “hinauf.”
1:13 [m. 18]--Repetition of the last two lines, as at 0:20 and 0:47.  The declamation of the last line is handled by extending “fliegen” by one note, eliminating the upbeat to the last line, which again begins on the downbeat, providing a more emphatic conclusion than in the two preceding verses.
1:24--END OF SONG [26 mm. (x3)]


8. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen (Four songs from the collection Der Jungbrunnen), No. 2: “Die Berge sind spitz” (“The mountain peaks are high”).  Text by Paul Heyse.  Andantino.  Two-part modified strophic form.  A MINOR, 2/4 time.

German Text:
Die Berge sind spitz
Und die Berge sind kalt,
Mein Schatz steigt zu Berge
Und ich in den Wald.

Da tröpfelt das Laub
Von Regen und Thau,
Ob die Augen da tröpfeln,
Wer sieht es genau?

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  The music is measured, quiet, and somewhat austere.  The first two lines are presented in a phrase that ends on a half-close.  The sopranos provide the melody, harmonized in thirds throughout and descending by step in each measure.  It moves steadily, with prominent dotted (long-short) rhythm.  The altos are less active, providing harmonic support.  The second altos are on a pedal point A until the last two notes of the phrase.  The first altos move a bit more, but many of their notes double the second altos an octave above.  The piano part is also steady, playing bass leaps of octaves and fifths on the downbeats and right hand chords in the middle of each bar.
0:13 [m. 5]--The second phrase, presenting the last two lines, maintains much the same pattern but begins higher.  The sopranos break from the motion in thirds a measure before the full cadence.  The second altos move away from the pedal point, but are still very static, as are the first altos.  In octaves for the first measure, the alto parts drift apart before the cadence.  The piano part also retains the same pattern, but the bass notes now leap down by steps or by fifths.  Both hands break their pattern to support the cadence.
0:24 [m. 9]--Stanza 2.  This verse is presented in imitative canon for its first three lines.  The sopranos begin in thirds, as before, but pause after the first line as the altos imitate them.  The altos are in unison, an octave below the first sopranos.  The pattern continues for the second line, but the sopranos move up instead of down, as in the first stanza.  The sopranos begin the third line at the same pitches as the second.  The first altos still imitate, but now not strictly, and a fifth or sixth below.  The second altos move away from the imitation and the unison, providing bass support to the first altos.  The first sopranos pause as the altos finish the line, but the second sopranos add a harmony above the altos on “tröpfeln.”  The piano part is very sparse, supporting the altos in single notes at first, leaving the sopranos exposed, then moving to chords under the third line.  As the altos finish on “tröpfeln,” the music slows.
0:43 [m. 16]--For the last line, the canon ends, but the voices are not completely together.  The first sopranos begin on the upbeat, singing the melody that ended the first stanza.  The second sopranos begin on the downbeat and do not sing the dotted rhythm, but cadence with the first sopranos.  The altos also begin on the downbeat, in harmony with each other.  They hold out the word “wer” and trail the sopranos on the rest of the line, singing the final word “genau” after the sopranos have finished it.  The second altos echo the last three descending notes of the soprano melody an octave lower while the first altos repeat a hollow E above them.  The piano supports the main harmonies.
0:53--END OF SONG [17 mm.]


9. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen (Four songs from the collection Der Jungbrunnen), No. 3:  “Am Wildbach die Weiden” (“The willows on the Wildbach”).  Text by Paul Heyse.  Angenehm bewegt (In pleasant motion).  Strophic form.  A MAJOR—F-SHARP MINOR, 6/8 time.

German Text:
Am Wildbach die Weiden,
Die schwanken Tag und Nacht.
Die Liebe von uns beiden
Hat Gott so fest gemacht.

Am Wildbach die Weiden,
Die haben nicht Wort und Ton.
Wenn sich die Augen besprechen,
So wissen die Herzen davon.

English Translation (Note: The word “Wildbach” in this poem is likely a proper name, referring to a specific stream in southwestern Germany, a tributary of the Main River.  It could also mean simply “rushing stream” or “rapids.”)

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  Like several other songs in the set, this one begins with an upbeat in 6/8 time.  The swaying “willow” motion is quite consistent throughout.  The song is in three-part harmony, as the altos are not split until the last note of each verse.  The second sopranos split on the first syllable of “Weiden,” creating a rich harmony.  The accompaniment has some interest.  The left hand adds notes (on beats 2 and 5 of each measure) to the alto line that it mostly doubles, creating a continuous bass motion below a right hand that plays a few isolated thirds.  The first phrase (two lines) is in pure A major with a half close.
0:11 [m. 5]--The second phrase shifts from A major to its relative minor key, F-sharp minor, and surprisingly ends there with a full cadence, providing an overtone of melancholy to the cheerful swaying of the willows.  In this phrase, the piano right hand has mostly octave leaps, moving in a single voice.  The left hand trails the vocal cadence, providing a firm conclusion and leading to the second verse.
0:21 [m. 9]--Stanza 2.  The vocal parts are as in stanza 1, with repeated notes added for the extra syllable on “haben.”  The accompaniment, however, is richer and fuller.  The left hand moves down an octave, and the right hand begins earlier, playing complete harmonies rather than the isolated thirds.
0:29 [m. 13]--As in stanza 1, the second phrase moves to F-sharp minor and stays there until the end.  Extra repeated notes are needed, interrupting the swaying motion on the words “Augen,” “wissen,” and “Herzen.”  The left hand of the piano remains an octave below the first stanza, and the right hand is again in full harmonies, playing throughout the phrase with no breaks.  The left hand trails the vocal cadence as before, the lower octave providing an even more solid minor-key conclusion.
0:43--END OF SONG [16 mm.]


10. Vier Lieder aus dem Jungbrunnen (Four songs from the collection Der Jungbrunnen), No. 4: “Und gehst du über den Kirchhof”  (“If you go across the churchyard”).  Text by Paul Heyse.  Andante.  Strophic form with slight extension.  E MINOR—E MAJOR, 3/4 time.

German Text:
Und gehst du über den Kirchhof,
Da find’st du ein frisches Grab;
Da senkten sie mit Tränen
Ein schönes Herz hinab.

Und fragst du, woran’s gestorben?
Kein Grabstein Antwort gibt;
Doch leise flüstern die Winde,
Es hatte zu heiß geliebt.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1.  The first two lines are set in E minor.  The altos begin in unison with a characteristic turning upbeat figure.  They are hushed and expressive.  The altos remain in unison for the entire minor-key phrase.  The sopranos follow, entering as the altos sing “den Kirchhof,” repeating the same turning figure.  The sopranos add full harmony.  The altos repeat “den Kirchhof” on a new, lower figure as the sopranos reach those words.  The second line is a repetition of the first line from the point of the soprano entry.  The altos begin with the sopranos, though, so there is no text repetition.  The first sopranos add a dotted rhythm in the first measure of the line to aid in declamation.  The accompaniment is simple, but elegant.  It consists only of repeated statements of the opening turning upbeat figure sung by the altos at the beginning.  The right hand plays it twice, doubling the altos, then the left hand moves it down an octave while no voices sing it.  A single right-hand, left-hand alternation follows for the second line.
0:26 [m. 11]--Lines 3 and 4 shift to a comforting E major.  The altos remain in unison at the beginning, but split at the word “Tränen,” creating a full, also comforting four-part harmony.  The last line descends to a gentle half-close before the second verse.  The piano now doubles the vocal harmonies, becoming fuller after the first two bars when the altos split into two parts.
0:45 [m. 19]--Stanza 2.  The first two lines are sung in E minor, as in stanza 1.  The altos repeat “und fragst du woran’s” instead of the single word “gestorben” (which would have been analogous to “den Kirchhof,” but would have created declamation problems).  In the second line, they also repeat “Antwort” rather than stretching out the less important word “gibt,” which would have been analogous to “Grab” in stanza 1.  The sopranos do stretch out “gibt.”  The sopranos have an interesting reversal in declamation, the first sopranos placing a dotted rhythm in the first line, but not the second, a reversal from stanza 1.  The accompaniment is as in stanza 1.
1:09 [m. 29]--The last two lines in E major are mostly as in stanza 1.  There are some changes in declamation, most notably the addition of a dotted (long-short) rhythm in the sopranos for the extra syllable on “flüstern.”  The most significant change is at the end, where Brahms extends the phrase by a measure to reach a full cadence instead of the half close heard at the end of stanza 1.  The sopranos descend an extra note to reach the final, soothing E.  To accomplish this, the words “zu heiß” are repeated in all parts.  The piano harmonies are also extended at the end.  Brahms adds a measure of rests after the voices end to compensate for the upbeat at the beginning of the song.
1:38--END OF SONG [38 mm.]


11. Die Braut [Von der Insel Rügen] (The Bride [From the Island of Rügen (Rugia)]).  Text by Wilhelm Müller.  Andante espressivo.  Simple strophic form.  D MINOR, 3/2 and 4/4 time.


German Text:
Eine blaue Schürze
hast du mir gegeben,
Mutter, schad’ ums Färben,
Mutter, schad’ ums Weben!
Morgen in der Frühe
wird sie bleich erscheinen,
will zu Nacht so lange
Tränen auf sie weinen.

Und wenn meine Tränen
es nicht schaffen können,
wie sie immer strömen,
wie sie immer brennen,
wird mein Liebster kommen
und mir Wasser bringen,
wird sich Meereswasser
aus den Locken ringen.

Denn er liegt da unten
in des Meeres Grunde,
und wenn ihm die Wogen
rauschen diese Kunde,
dass ich hier soll freien
und ihm treulos werden,
aus der Tiefe steigt er
auf zur bösen Erden.

In die Kirche soll ich --
nun, ich will ja kommen,
will mich fromm gesellen
zu den andern Frommen.
Lasst mich am Altare
still vorüberziehen;
denn dort ist mein Plätzchen,
wo die Witwen knien.

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1, lines 1-2.  The first two lines are sung in block harmony with six notes to each line in the 3/2 meter.  The altos are in unison, so the harmony is in three parts.  The altos remain static on the keynote D for eight notes before jumping down.  The sopranos sharply rise and fall in the second line.  The steady motion and minor key create a sense of resigned melancholy.  The piano simply plays a rising octave under each line, the second with harmony above it.
0:09 [m. 3]--Stanza 1, lines 3-4.  The next two lines are still set in groups of six steadily moving chords, but the meter changes to 4/4.  This allows there to be a two-beat break between each line, during which the piano overlaps with the end of the line for a descending bridge figure that has an unsettling, interrupting character.  The voices swell in both pitch and volume on each line, and the altos split for the last three notes of each line.  The fourth line makes a strong motion to C major.
0:17 [m. 7]--Stanza 1, lines 5-8.  The remaining four lines return to the steady, static motion with no breaks between the lines, and the meter changes back to 3/2.  All four lines remain at a quiet level, matching the static motion with static dynamics.  On the last line, the meter changes again to two bars of 4/4 simply to allow two beats of rest at the end.  The altos are in unison for the first two lines, splitting rather dramatically for the end of the third (seventh) line and the last line.  The first sopranos have a very sad chromatic note (E-flat ) at the top of the final line.  The piano now participates fully, the left hand doubling the alto (and second alto) line throughout.  The right hand plays a group of two chords for the second and third beats of the first three lines, then doubles the parts more fully on the last line.
0:31 [m. 1]--Stanza 2, lines 1-2, as at 0:00.  Because Müller’s poem consistently holds to the six-syllable lines in all stanzas, no change in declamation is needed between the stanzas.
0:37 [m. 3]--Stanza 2, lines 3-4 in 4/4, as at 0:09.
0:46 [m. 7]--Stanza 2, lines 5-8, as at 0:17.
1:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 3, lines 1-2, as at 0:00 and 0:31.
1:07 [m. 3]--Stanza 3, lines 3-4, as at 0:09 and 0:37.
1:16 [m. 7]--Stanza 3, lines 5-8, as at 0:17 and 0:46.
1:30 [m. 1]--Stanza 4, lines 1-2, as at 0:00, 0:31, and 1:00.
1:37 [m. 3]--Stanza 4, lines 3-4, as at 0:09, 0:37, and 1:07.
1:46 [m. 7]--Stanza 4, lines 5-8, as at 0:17, 0:46, and 1:16.  The voices slow slightly at the end.
2:02--END OF SONG [11 mm. (x4)]


12. Märznacht (March Night).  Text by Johann Ludwig Uhland.  Poco Allegro.  Two-part sectional form with double canons.  B-FLAT MINOR—B-FLAT MAJOR, 6/4 time.

German Text:
Horch! wie brauset der Sturm und der schwellende Strom in der Nacht hin!
Schaurig süßes Gefühl! lieblicher Frühling, du nahst!

English Translation

0:00 [m. 1]--Part 1.  The first section in B-flat minor sets the first large line in an elaborate double canon (direct imitation) in three-bar units.  It begins with the first sopranos, imitated a half-bar later by the first altos a fifth lower.  The line has an opening note, then a leap up to a faster descending chromatic line.  The canon continues through “Sturm” before the second sopranos and second altos enter.  The first sopranos make it through “und der.”  The lines have an unsettled, windswept quality, which is enhanced by the piano part.  In this song, the piano does not follow the vocal lines at all, but plays a series of sweeping accompanying arpeggios, passed between the hands, which frequently dovetail with one another.
0:08 [m. 4]--The second sopranos and second altos enter with the same canon at the fifth heard in the first parts, three bars after each respective first part.  The second sopranos imitate the first sopranos exactly, at the same pitches, as the second altos also imitate the first altos exactly.  The first parts now break their canon with each other, joining together in harmonic arching motion on “und der schwellende Strom,” where the first altos catch up to the first sopranos and bring the line to a close.  Meanwhile, the second parts continue their precise imitation of the first parts, reaching the same point the first parts did before they entered, just as the first parts complete the line together.
0:13 [m. 7]--The first parts begin again with the same lines heard at the beginning.  They only continue through “Sturm” as the second parts complete the line as the first parts had previously done, remaining in direct imitation of their respective first parts throughout.  Thus, these three measures are essentially a precise repetition of the last three measures (mm. 4-6), but the piano accompaniment is thinned out slightly and the dynamic level decreases and begins to wind down.  The first parts drop out after completing their initial canon at the fifth on the word “Sturm,” the first sopranos dropping out first.
0:19 [m. 10]--As the first altos come to a close, the second sopranos, followed by the second altos, also repeat the first three bars of imitation at the fifth, but in isolation, as the first parts had been at the beginning.  They quietly wind down, closing on “Sturm.”  The piano drops out in the last two bars.  Both second parts complete a full imitation of the first parts.  As the second altos bring the section to a close, they lead directly into the shift to B-flat major for the second part, which sets the second long line.
0:25 [m. 13]--Part 2.  The shift to major has occurred, but the change in character only happens gradually.  Similar to Part 1, the first sopranos begin, followed by the first altos a half-bar later.  Although both parts begin with a descending chromatic line, they are no longer in direct imitation.  The first altos begin a sixth lower, and the motion is completely different in each part on “süßes Gefühl.”  The piano now changes from arpeggios to an oscillating motion, at first in the right hand only, and the dynamic trajectory is reversed from Part 1.  This section begins quietly and steadily builds.
0:32 [m. 16]--The second parts enter.  As in the first section, they imitate their respective first parts exactly, on the same pitches.  The first parts diverge widely from each other, however.  The first sopranos reach a held high note on “Frühling” while the first altos continue with descending chromatic motion.  The first parts complete the line at the same time, while the second parts continue their direct imitation of them, reaching the point in their musical lines where they had entered against the first parts.  The piano becomes thicker, subtly adding long B-flats in the left hand and fuller oscillating harmonies in the right.
0:38 [m. 19]--As in Part 1, the first parts begin their lines again as the second parts complete their imitation.  This time, however, they do not break off, and continue with their lines after the second parts reach the conclusion.  The piano builds more, with the left hand moving an octave lower.
0:44 [m. 22]--The second parts also begin a full repetition as the first parts, unlike their process in the first section, complete their second statement fully.  Thus, the sections at 0:32 [m. 16], 0:38 [m. 19], and 0:44 [m.22] are essentially repetitions of the same music with the parts exchanging, the only real change being in the building volume and strengthening piano part, whose bass B-flat now moves down another octave.
0:50 [m. 25]--The first parts have completed their second statement and now add totally new lines on “lieblicher Frühling, du nahst!” as the second sopranos complete their line.  The second altos change their conclusion slightly to make it more conducive to a full cadence, replacing their ascent on “Frühling, du nahst!” with a leap down to a held B-flat and cutting the word “lieblicher.”  This final phrase is rich and full.  The new line in the first altos is particularly interesting.  Under the voices, now harmonizing fully, the piano reaches an ecstatic motion with full oscillating chords in the right hand.  The left hand also oscillates with a broken octave above its low B-flat.  The joyous conclusion, which slows at the final cadence, contrasts sharply with the unsettled opening, although the motion throughout the song has been a continuous, swelling stream (matching the “schwellende Strom” of the text).  The loud-soft-loud dynamic arc, reaching its quiet point at the shift from minor to major at Part 2, is also masterfully constructed.
1:04--END OF SONG [27 mm.]
END OF SET


BRAHMS LISTENING GUIDES HOME