FIVE ROMANCES AND SONGS (ROMANZEN UND LIEDER) FOR ONE
OR TWO VOICES WITH PIANO, OP. 84
This set, standing in the middle of the songs from
the “high maturity,” is somewhat of an anomaly. Usually
grouped with the solo Lieder, it would be just as home among the
duets. No “true” duets would follow the masterful Op. 75 set, but this group is a sort of
spiritual cousin to that one. Since Brahms himself specified
either “one or two voices,” however, it could also form a sort of
contrasting set to the rather heavier solo songs of Opp. 85 and 86.
If sung as duets, the songs do not contain any places where the
partners would sing together in any sort of harmony, save for a
brief and optional passage at the end of No. 5. Otherwise,
they are strictly dialogue songs, and as such, are very similar to
those of Op. 75 (which, however, cannot
be taken by one singer apiece). The first three texts are
mother-daughter dialogue settings of the poet Hans Schmidt.
The latter two are “folk texts” from the lower Rhine. These
last two songs came with “original melodies” in the dubious source
Brahms favored, and he later made fine arrangements of those
melodies in his great folksong collection
of 1894. The music of these two settings, however, is wholly
Brahms’s own. They are contrasting boy-girl dialogues.
When taken by one singer, the set is invariably performed by a
woman. No. 4, “Vergebliches Ständchen,” (not to be confused
with two songs from Opp. 14 and 106 entitled “Ständchen”) is one of the
more popular and familiar of Brahms songs. While rather
slight in comparison to other works of the period, they are all
extremely agreeable pieces, and, apart from superficial
similarities to Op. 75, quite unique in
the composer’s output. An interesting note is that No. 1 has
the same title as the first song of the next group, Op. 85.
Recording (solo): Jessye Norman, soprano; Daniel Barenboim,
piano [DG 449 633-2]
Recording (duet): Juliane Banse, soprano; Iris Vermilion,
mezzo-soprano; Andreas Schmidt, baritone; Helmut Deutsch, piano
[CPO 999 447-2]
This guide includes two sets of timings: the first one for the
solo recording with Norman/Barenboim, and the second one for the
duet recording with Banse, Vermillion, Schmidt/Deutsch. The
keys used in these recordings are different from each other in all
cases except No. 4. As always, original keys are used for
analysis, regardless of the keys used in the recordings.
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.
SCORE FROM IMSLP (First edition from Brahms-Institut
SCORE FROM IMSLP (From Breitkopf & Härtel Sämtliche
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max
Sommerabend (in original key, D minor/major)
Sommerabend (in high key, G minor/major)
No. 1: Sommerabend (in middle key, E
Der Kranz (in original key, G minor/major)
2: Der Kranz (in middle key, E minor/major)
Der Kranz (in low key, D minor/major)
In den Beeren (in original key, E-flat major)
3: In den Beeren (in low key, B-flat major)
Vergebliches Ständchen (in original key, A major)
4: Vergebliches Ständchen (in middle key, G major)
Vergebliches Ständchen (in low key, F major)
Spannung (in original key, A minor/major)
5: Spannung (in low key, F minor/major)
1. Sommerabend (Summer Evening). Text
by Hans Schmidt. Andante con moto. Alternating
strophic form (ABAB). D MINOR/MAJOR, 2/4 time
(High key G minor/major, middle key E minor/major).
(The title Sommerabend
is also used for Op. 85, No. 1.)
Geh’ schlafen, Tochter, schlafen!
Schon fällt der Tau aufs Gras,
Und wen die Tropfen trafen,
Weint bald die Augen naß!
Laß weinen, Mutter, weinen!
Das Mondlicht leuchtet hell,
Und wem die Strahlen scheinen,
Dem trocknen Tränen schnell!
Geh’ schlafen, Tochter, schlafen!
Schon ruft der Kauz im Wald,
Und wen die Töne trafen,
Muß mit ihm klagen bald!
Laß klagen, Mutter, klagen!
Die Nachtigall singt hell,
Und wem die Lieder schlagen,
Dem schwindet Trauer schnell!
0:00, 0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1, lines 1-2. There is no
introduction. The mother’s “voice” begins immediately in a
low, hollow, undulating melody featuring long-short rhythms.
The “color” note E-flat, a half-step above the keynote, is sung on
“fällt” and “Tau.” The piano accompaniment is rather stark,
with syncopated chords in the right hand following bass notes that
reach up and down in wide intervals. The syncopation is more
sustained at the bridge between lines 2 and 3.
0:11, 0:10 [m. 9]--Stanza 1, lines 3-4. The third
line begins with the vocalist leaping up an octave, then gently
descending. The piano accompaniment retains its rhythmic
pattern, but both hands play harmonic thirds. The right
hand, off the beat, imitates the on-beat left hand. The
accompaniment and melodic patterns from the opening return with
the fourth line. That line is repeated, quietly and
seriously, for emphasis. The repetition ends with a full
cadence in the voice, but the piano does not come to rest.
Its harmony is given a major-key inflection, and it trails after
the voice, suspending itself on the preparatory “dominant” chord.
0:28, 0:26 [m. 21]--Stanza 2. The daughter’s response
very suddenly shifts to major, and is much brighter and
higher. The piano accompaniment uses arpeggios in a more
flowing triplet rhythm for the right hand, but the less active
left hand remains in straight rhythm.. The piano shifts back
to the syncopated chords at the third line. The daughter
repeats her last line, as had the mother. She uses the
repetition to float up to a confident full cadence. The
piano settles down in an interlude, still with the familiar
syncopation, and turns back to minor.
0:57, 0:57 [m. 47]--Stanza 3, lines 1-2. The mother’s
second injunction to the daughter is set to the same music as the
first after a smooth transition. The “color” note on “Kauz”
(“screech owl”) is appropriate. Note the textual parallels
to Stanza 1.
1:07, 1:07 [m. 55]--Stanza 3, lines 3-4. As in the
parallel passage of stanza 1, the second half of the stanza begins
with the octave leap. The music continues as before,
including the repetition of the fourth line and the trailing piano
leading to the suspended “dominant.”
1:21, 1:22 [m. 67]--Stanza 4. The daughter’s response
is also set to the same bright major music as Stanza 2. Again,
note the textual parallels. The piano postlude is almost
identical to the previous interlude, but it is shortened by one
measure, and the syncopation is interrupted by the final major
chord, which replaces the previous turn back to minor.
1:57, 2:03--END OF SONG [91 mm.]
2. Der Kranz (The Wreath). Text by
Hans Schmidt. Lebhaft (Lively). Allegro
grazioso. Ternary form. G MINOR/MAJOR, 6/8 time
(Middle key E minor/major, low key D minor/major).
Mutter, hilf mir armen Tochter,
Sieh’ nur, was ein Knabe tat:
Einen Kranz von Rosen flocht er,
Den er mich zu tragen bat!
Ei, sei deshalb unerschrocken,
Helfen läßt sich dir gewiß!
Nimm den Kranz nur aus den Locken,
Und den Knaben, den vergiß!
Dornen hat der Kranz, o Mutter,
Und die halten fest das Haar!
Worte sprach der Knabe, Mutter,
an die denk’ ich immerdar
0:00, 0:00 [m. 1]--The two-bar piano introduction is
halting and hesitant to establish the 6/8 “flow.” Rustling
figures are played by both hands in contrary motion, with a clear
distinction between the outer main notes on the beat and the inner
notes played after them. The figures are separated by rests
on the third and sixth beats of each measure.
0:04, 0:04 [m. 3]--Stanza 1. The daughter’s first
mock “complaint” is set to a flowing mock-melancholy melody.
The piano accompaniment gains momentum as the voice enters, losing
its “halting” character and becoming light, with a continuous flow
of 16th notes in both hands. There is a mild
suggestion of a cross-rhythm grouping or “hemiola,” implying three
beats instead of two in the piano. The accompaniment is
marked leggiero. The left hand becomes more
independent under the second line, adding rests on strong beats
and rising arpeggios. The right hand moves to arching
figures as the line concludes and the singer reaches a
half-close. There is a vocal break after this line as the
piano moves to the lower register.
0:12, 0:12 [m. 8]--For the third line of the stanza, which
begins with an upbeat, the music moves to the major key (B-flat,
relative to G minor). The left hand takes over the arching
figures, and the right hand plays slower harmonies in support of
the singer, who stretches out the words “Kranz” and “Rosen.”
After two measures, under the last line, the hands alternate,
passing the continuous figuration between each other. The
last four words are repeated in slower, drawn-out notes. The
piano also slows down to the “halting” character of the
introduction, then moves to longer notes as the line
concludes. The daughter’s last word arrives with a two bar
piano transition to the next stanza. It returns to the
rippling, continuous 16th notes.
0:30, 0:30 [m. 17]--Stanza 2. The mother’s response
is set in a contrasting key arrived at in the previous transition
(D major). Her line has more of a sweeping character and the
continuous “flow” is now in the right hand of the piano. The
left hand plays slower arpeggios, mostly descending. The
voice breaks between the first two lines, and the piano echoes the
descending line on “unerschrocken.” The second line reaches
a half-close in the new major key.
0:41, 0:40 [m. 22]--The mother’s third line (giving the
daughter unwelcome advice) makes the opposite modal shift from the
daughter’s, suddenly turning to D minor, where her stanza
ends. Here the flowing accompaniment is again in both hands
for two bars. The mother repeats her last four words, the
latter two being slowed down. Her last word arrives with a
quick motion to the home key of G minor and the introductory
“hesitant” two bars from the opening. These are varied so
that the left hand follows a beat after the right hand, preserving
the flow, and the left hand notes are slightly changed in the
0:58, 0:57 [m. 31]--Stanza 3. The daughter’s reply
begins as in stanza 1, but reaches higher for “fest das
Haar.” The piano in the vocal break is subtly changed so
that the left hand echoes the singer’s new line for those words in
the low bass. Leading into the next line, there is a new
1:08, 1:06 [m. 36]--Instead of moving to B-flat
major, as before, the last two lines of the daughter’s stanza are
now set in the “home” major key of G, which is higher and
brighter. With the daughter expressing her true feelings,
the music is more excited than what has gone before. The
“flowing” accompaniment gains more sweep, with continuous arching
lines in the right hand and several colorful chromatic
inflections. The singer repeats the word “Mutter” a third
higher before moving to the last line.
1:15, 1:14 [m. 40]--The last line begins, and after one
measure, at the word “denk,” the piano moves to upward arpeggios
split between the hands. The line concludes in an uncertain
manner, with a hint of the related minor key (E minor). But
then the line is repeated, changing only the last two notes to
reach a full cadence. Under the repetition, the piano slows
its arpeggios, again at the word “denk.” The excitement
resumes with the four-bar postlude, where the “flowing”
accompaniment resumes. The right hand has an explicit
cross-rhythm grouping, beginning off the beat and obscuring the
bar line. It reaches upward, and is finally cut off by two
sharp chords and the final held chord.
1:42, 1:42--END OF SONG [50 mm.]
3. In den Beeren (Among the Berries).
Text by Hans Schmidt. Sehr lebhaft (Very lively).
Alternating strophic form (ABA’B’). E-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4 time
(Low key B-flat major).
Singe, Mädchen, hell und klar,
Sing’ aus voller Kehle,
Daß uns nicht die Spatzenschar
Alle Beeren stehle!
Mutter, mag auch weit der Spatz
Flieh’n vor meinem Singen,
Fürcht’ ich doch, es wird den Schatz
Um so näher bringen.
Freilich, für so dreisten Gauch
Braucht es einer Scheuche,
Warte nur, ich komme auch
In die Beerensträuche!
Mutter, nein, das hat nicht Not:
Beeren, schau, sind teuer,
Doch der Küsse, reif und rot,
Gibt es viele heuer!
0:00, 0:00 [m. 1]--The exuberant 4-bar introduction has low
rising octaves in the bass and syncopated harmonized descents in
the right hand.
0:03, 0:03 [m. 5]--Stanza 1 (A). The mother’s
imperative begins in the vein of the introduction. The first
line sweeps down, and the second arches down and back up.
Under the first line, the piano left and right hands play the same
descents an octave apart, still with the syncopated right hand
following. Under the second line, the left hand returns to
low bass octaves as in the introduction. Line 3 begins like
line 1, but the piano harmonies and then the last vocal note
are altered, beginning a turn to G minor. Line 4 completes
this turn with a full cadence. Under it, the piano moves to
solid octaves and chords, abandoning the syncopation. In an
interlude, surging chords beginning on the weak beats have inner
and outer motion on the downbeats.
0:19, 0:17 [m. 25]--Stanza 2 (B). The
preceding chords have moved to the distant key of B major, where
the first three lines of the daughter’s response are set.
Her music is more subdued than the mother’s at first and mildly
chromatic, marked dolce. The same accompaniment
pattern continues in the piano until line 3. The hands move
in contrary motion, the left still leading. The left hand
uses both the higher harmonies (now rising, in thirds) and the low
bass octaves. Under line 3, the piano moves to smooth sotto
voce lines in octaves over the bass.
0:29, 0:27 [m. 37]--Moving the opposite direction from the
mother, the daughter’s last line makes a very bright turn back
home to E-flat as the piano’s moving lines expand to wider
arpeggios. The line is repeated with even more exuberance as
an arching motion that leads to a satisfying cadence, stretching
out the word “bringen.” The four-bar introduction leads out
of the cadence to introduce the mother’s next verse.
0:38, 0:35 [m. 49]--Stanza 3 (A’). The
mother’s second verse is set almost exactly as the first, with a
subtle “color” note (C-flat) added to the first two lines.
The modulating, surging chords follow as before.
0:54, 0:50 [m. 69]--Stanza 4 (B’). The
daughter’s response begins as before, in B major. The third
line is expanded and repeated for emphasis, with a gently urgent
vocal line. The legato lines in the piano are more
colorful, adding more chromatic motion, including downward
half-step turns. The piano is now marked mezza voce.
1:07, 1:03 [m. 85]--The last line is nearly the same as
before, moving to E-flat and repeated with the exuberant rhythm,
but the top note, along with its accompaniment, is held and drawn
out for an extra bar (on the word “viele”). The introduction
is repeated as expected, replacing its last bar with a low bass
octave and a punctuating chord, and adding another measure for a
higher held final chord.
1:26, 1:21--END OF SONG [98 mm.]
4. Vergebliches Ständchen
Allegedly a folk text from the lower Rhine, but really written by
the compiler, Anton Wilhelm Florentin von Zuccalmaglio.
Lebhaft und gut gelaunt (Lively and with good humour).
Strophic form. A MAJOR, 3/4 time (Middle key G major, low
key F major).
Guten Abend, mein Schatz,
guten Abend, mein Kind!
Ich komm’ aus Lieb’ zu dir,
Ach, mach’ mir auf die Tür,
mach’ mir auf die Tür!
Meine Tür ist verschlossen,
Ich laß dich nicht ein;
Mutter, die rät’ mir klug,
Wär’st du herein mit Fug,
Wär’s mit mir vorbei!
So kalt ist die Nacht,
so eisig der Wind,
Daß mir das Herz erfriert,
Mein’ Lieb’ erlöschen wird;
Öffne mir, mein Kind!
Löschet dein’ Lieb’;
lass’ sie löschen nur!
Löschet sie immerzu,
Geh’ heim zu Bett, zur Ruh’!
Gute Nacht, mein Knab’!
0:00, 0:00 [m. 1]--The very brief introduction anticipates
the rising broken chords of the first vocal gesture.
0:02, 0:02 [m. 3]--Stanza 1. The boy’s first verse
establishes the lighthearted mood and the musical material of the
basic strophe. The opening rising gesture is
characteristic. The piano initially doubles the voice in
octaves, adding chords at the end of the first two lines.
The verse also establishes the text pattern of the strophes.
After the second line, the piano alone repeats the music of the
first line, while the voice joins for a full repetition of the
second. This happens in each verse. At the repetition,
the piano introduces a flowing, but angular left hand line.
The right hand plunges down in thirds before the next line.
0:11, 0:11 [m. 11]--At the third line, the piano becomes
less active, playing punctuating chords. The first three
syllables (two or three words) of the last (fifth) line receive
two repetitions before the entire line is sung again in
full. In this case, line five is a virtual repetition of
line four as well. In these performances, the singers slow
down slightly for the first statement of line five, which ends on
a colorful “diminished” harmony. A slightly expanded version
of the piano introduction, adding three extra rising notes before
the original gesture, links the verses.
0:24, 0:24 [m. 23]--Stanza 2. The musical material of
the vocal line is the same as stanza 1 (though sung by a different
character), but Brahms gives the piano accompaniment more
decorative motion before and during the repetition of the second
line (almost reversing the right- and left-hand motion). The
pattern of text repetition is the same. Notice how the
singer in the solo performance varies her voice to distinguish the
girl from the boy. The “pause” on the first statement of
line five is more pronounced as well in both performances.
The “linking” introduction suddenly shifts to minor.
0:49, 0:49 [m. 43]--Stanza 3. While the vocal strophe
is basically the same for the boy’s new entreaty, it is now sung
in the tonic minor (A minor), as the “link” anticipated.
This matches the text perfectly, as does the varied accompaniment,
which now has a faster, more ominous motion in octaves for the
first two lines. The right hand moves back to chords
doubling the vocal line before and during the line 2 repetition.
0:58, 0:58 [m. 51]--In the last three lines, short
arpeggios precede the punctuating chords. The mode shifts
back to major for the repetitions of line five, and the piano adds
subtle imitations of the vocal line. The “link” is now varied,
doing away with the longer notes and adding an additional rising
gesture, creating a mild cross-rhythm, so that it ends higher and
more forcefully on the home keynote. It is also now
harmonized, with the left hand playing chords and octaves instead
of imitating the right hand’s runs. Brahms indicates an
increase in tempo here (“Lebhafter”).
1:11, 1:11 [m. 63]--Stanza 4. The girl’s final verse
is the same as that of stanza 2, but notably, the opening “upbeat”
is cut to match the text and the strophe begins on the downbeat,
unlike the other three stanzas. The accompaniment is again
varied, being now fully harmonized, with arpeggios in the left
hand. It acquires a light and “skipping” character
(replacing the punctuating chords) at the third line, with the
hands largely in contrary motion. The “pause” is again
emphasized by the singers in these recordings. A short
postlude resembling the last interlude (with the higher-rising
line) closes the song (and apparently the window) with forceful
1:40, 1:40--END OF SONG [84 mm.]
5. Spannung (Tension). Folk text
from the lower Rhine in Zuccalmaglio’s collection (see #4
above). Bewegt und heimlich (With secretive motion).
Ternary form with strophic elements. A MINOR/MAJOR, 3/8
time (Low key F minor/major).
Gut’n Abend, gut’n Abend, mein tausiger Schatz,
Ich sag’ dir guten Abend;
Komm’ du zu mir, ich komme zu dir,
Du sollst mir Antwort geben, mein Engel!
Ich kommen zu dir, du kommen zu mir?
Das wär’ mir gar keine Ehre;
Du gehst von mir zu andern Jungfrauen,
Das hab’ ich wohl vernommen, mein Engel!
Ach nein, mein Schatz, und glaub’ es nur nicht,
Was falsche Zungen reden,
Es geben so viele gottlosige Leut’,
Die dir und mir nichts gönnen, mein Engel!
Und gibt es so viele gottlosige Leut’,
Die dir und mir nichts gönnen,
So solltest du selber bewahren die Treu’
Und machen zu Schanden ihr Reden, mein Engel!
Leb’ wohl, mein Schatz, ich hör’ es wohl,
Du hast einen Anderen lieber,
So will ich meiner Wege geh’n,
Gott möge dich wohl behüten, mein Engel!
Ach nein, ich hab’ kein’ Anderen lieb,
Ich glaub’ nicht gottlosigen Leuten,
Komm’ du zu mir, ich komme zu dir,
Wir bleiben uns beide getreue, mein Engel!
Translation [Note: the obscure word “tausiger” in
stanza 1 is rendered as “wondrous,” but it is could also be
“precious” or perhaps “one in a thousand.”]
0:00, 0:00 [m. 1]--The piano introduction, beginning with
an upbeat, sets up the rocking, furtive motion of the first two
strophes as well as the “pedal point” broken octave on A in the
bass. The right hand, with its distinctive dotted
(long-short) rhythms is harmonized in thirds and sixths.
0:05, 0:05 [m. 5]--Stanza 1. The boy’s first entreaty
continues the rocking and secretive, yet somewhat dark and
restless 3/8 motion. The minor tonality lends a sense of
urgency, or the “tension” of the title. The accompaniment is
syncopated, with brief rests in the right hand at the beginning of
each figure. The left hand remains almost constantly tied to
a low “pedal point” A, which only moves to the “dominant” note E
at the end of the second line. There is also motion to
create a cadence at the end of the stanza. Note the setting of
“mein Engel” (“my angel”) which occurs at the end of each stanza
like a refrain. The introductory music returns as an
interlude, the actual repeat sign directing halfway through it, to
0:26, 0:31 [m. 5]--Stanza 2. The girl’s first
response is an exact repetition of the boy’s first music (hinting
at simple strophic form). These two verses, however, are the
first or A section of a ternary form. The interlude
is changed to move to E minor. After the repeat sign, at m.
23 (corresponding to m. 3), the left hand plays arpeggios spanning
two octaves while the right hand motion settles in the new key.
0:48, 0:57 [m. 25]--Stanza 3. The next pair of verses
form the middle, or B section. Brahms indicates that
they should be slightly faster (“Etwas lebhafter”). The
vocal line is now in a higher register and the piano accompaniment
(at least in the right hand), is more active, increasing the
“tension” with flowing motion that still has hints of
syncopation. The faster notes of the right hand and the
slower notes of the left are both grouped in ways that run counter
to the prevailing 3/8 meter of the vocal line, implying 2/4
(except in the third line). The bass holds on E for a
line, then becomes more active. The ratcheting up of the key
to E minor also serves the purpose of increasing the drama.
There is no interlude between stanzas 3 and 4.
1:07, 1:20 [m. 25]--Stanza 4. Again, the girl’s
response is set to the same music as the the boy’s previous
strophe. A new interlude begins with the second ending,
preserving the cross-rhythms from the strophe, moving back to A
minor, and returning to the material from the first two verses.
1:29, 1:46 [m. 45]--Stanza 5. The last two verses
make up the return, or A’ section. The boy’s vocal
line is essentially the same as in verse 1 (and the girl’s in
verse 2), but the accompaniment is again more moving, particularly
now in the left hand, which replaces the broken octaves with
three-note arpeggios against the first two lines and undulates
over the “pedal point” against line 3. The bass under line 4
combines these elements. The right hand abandons the
syncopation and follows the vocal line. The
interlude/introduction from the beginning again links the verses,
now with the three-note arpeggios in the left hand.
1:48, 2:12 [m. 65]--Stanza 6. The last stanza, the
girl’s final response, effectively releases the ever-increasing
“tension,” as is appropriate for the resolution in the text.
This is accomplished by a sudden and magical change of mode to
major. The vocal line is similar to that in stanzas 1, 2,
and 5, but is set higher (usually a third above the
original). The one exception is line 2, which is essentially
the same and briefly returns to minor (appropriate for the
text). Brahms again marks that the speed should increase,
and he helps this with a now very active accompaniment, using
broad arpeggios (in the left hand for lines 1 and 3, the right for
line 2). A hint of cross rhythm is sometimes apparent.
In line 3, the right hand imitates the vocal line in inversion,
then has a colorful minor-key inflection. Line 4 harmonizes
the voice in thirds.
2:04, 2:34 [m. 82]--In another surprise, the last two lines
are repeated, with a change in direction (for both the singer and
the first of the piano’s inverted imitations) in line 3 (and no
minor-key inflection), and an exact repetition of line 4.
Here, Brahms writes an optional harmony for the male singer to
join if the song is done as a duet (a sixth below the girl).
The “coming together” helps to resolve the tension between them
for most of the song. Since this is the only spot in all
five songs of the opus where vocal duet harmony is indicated, and
that harmony is not crucial, it still works well as a solo.
A very brief piano postlude with mild bass syncopation settles
things down for the close of an extremely effective small drama.
2:18, 2:59--END OF SONG [92 mm.]
END OF SET
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