SIX SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 85
Recording: Jessye Norman, soprano (No. 3); Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449
With the consecutive Op. 86, this set
is on the cusp of the late period. These two sets comprise
the last songs of the “high maturity.” The preceding Op. 84, a set of quasi-duets that can be
and usually are performed by one singer, is of a different nature,
although it is curious that the opening songs of Opp. 84 and 85 both have the same title.
The set shows some similarities to the concurrent Op. 86. Both end with longer, more
introspective songs, and in both cases, the fifth song is an
exuberant setting that contrasts somewhat with the more “serious”
songs surrounding it. Op. 85 has its own individual features,
however, most notably in its first two songs, which are not only
by the same poet, Heine, but share musical material in such a
manner that, when performed together, they can be seen as a single
extended song with a logical, continuous form. The poems
appear in succession in one of Heine’s collections. The
principal melody of the songs, which comprises the outer sections
of the first and the middle section of the second, is an inspired
creation, made even more memorable by its flowing countermelody,
which is heard at a higher level in each of its three successive
appearances. The matching imagery of text and music is among
Brahms’s most evocative. Brahms includes two translated folk
texts as the middle two songs, something Op.
86 lacks. The first of these is called simply
“Mädchenlied,” or “Girl’s Song,” a title that would also be used
for two more songs in Op. 95 and Op. 107. It uses an irregular 5/4
meter, which is a rare occurrence in Brahms. The character
of the second, with its archaic-sounding melody and consistent
accompaniment, recalls the folk-text settings of the early Op. 14. The fifth is by far the
brightest song in the set, but is not overly virtuosic. The
final song, “In Waldeseinsamkeit,” is an atmospheric and
exceedingly romantic setting with typical nature images. It
elevates considerably the poem it sets, and is one of the more
familiar songs, often equated with another contemporary
“Einsamkeit” (“Loneliness”) song, Op. 86,
Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily
Ezust’s site at http://www.lieder.net.
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 Friedländer):
Sommerabend (in original key, B-flat major)
1: Sommerabend (in low key, G major)
Mondenschein (in original key, B-flat major)
2: Mondenschein (in low key, G major)
Mädchenlied (in original key, A minor)
3: Mädchenlied (in middle key, F minor)
Mädchenlied (in low key, E minor)
Ade! (in original key, B minor)
4: Ade! (in low key, G minor)
Frühlingslied (in original key, G major)
5: Frühlingslied (in low key, E major)
In Waldeseinsamkeit (in original key, B major)
6: In Waldeseinsamkeit (in middle key, G major)
In Waldeseinsamkeit (in low key, F-sharp major)
1. Sommerabend (Summer Evening). Text
by Heinrich Heine. Langsam (Slowly). Ternary form
(ABA’). B-FLAT MAJOR, 4/4 time (Low key G major).
(The title Sommerabend
is also used for Op. 84, no. 1.)
Dämmernd liegt der Sommerabend
Über Wald und grünen Wiesen;
Goldner Mond im blauen Himmel
Strahlt herunter, duftig labend.
An dem Bache zirpt die Grille,
Und es regt sich in dem Wasser,
Und der Wandrer hört ein Plätschern
Und ein Atmen in der Stille.
Dorten, an dem Bach alleine,
Badet sich die schöne Elfe;
Arm und Nacken, weiß und lieblich,
Schimmern in dem Mondenscheine.
0:00 [m. 1]--Two long
full-measure chords (of the expectant “dominant seventh”
sonority), establish a fluid harmony at first suggesting F, but
resolving on B-flat with the vocal entry.
0:11 [m. 3]--Stanza 1 (A). The vocal line
consists of seven generally downward-arching lines, one
corresponding to each half-line of poetry (four syllables) and
each bar of music. The first four lines are simple broken
chords, while the next three introduce both stepwise motion and
larger leaps. The last half-line is lengthened with longer
notes, forming three bars and two downward lines. The last
full line is therefore twice as long (four bars) as the other
three (two bars). The piano accompaniment includes a winding
countermelody in the left hand and soft after-beats in the right.
0:53 [m. 12]--The vocal
cadence merges into a brief interlude with the soft after-beats.
1:01 [m. 14]--Stanza 2 (B). The music is still
quiet, but somewhat more agitated and dynamic. The main
vocal line is based on part of the countermelody to Stanza
1. The after-beats continue in the left hand, but the right
hand harmonizes the vocal line. One half-line per bar
persists again here until the last word (“Stille”), which is
slightly elongated to lead into the next interlude. The
music moves from D minor toward F minor, setting up the return of
the opening chords.
1:34 [m. 23]--The opening
full-measure chords return, but are set lower and punctuated by
two distinctive sighing figures in the right hand.
1:46 [m. 25]--Stanza 3 (A’). The vocal line is
the same as that of the first stanza, but the accompaniment is
very different. The countermelody moves up an octave, closer
to the range of the voice and more audible. The soft
after-beats are replaced by a flowing, irregular triplet rhythm in
the bass, highly suggestive of the water and the bathing
sprite. Note that the last word is the title of the next
2:28 [m. 34]--The
postlude, coinciding with the vocal cadence, straightens out the
flowing bass line and adds two more sigh figures similar to those
at 1:34 (m. 23). The harmony under the last “sigh,” which is
played as an octave, is the unstable “diminished seventh.”
The final chords in the piano’s tenor register are similar to
those in the opening and the interlude, but are less fluid and
create a satisfying final cadence.
3:01--END OF SONG [37 mm.]
2. Mondenschein (Moonlight). Text by
Heinrich Heine. Langsam (Slowly). Free three-part
form. When combined with Sommerabend,
the combined songs form a Rondo (ABA’CA-Coda). B-FLAT MAJOR,
4/4 time (Low key G major).
Nacht liegt auf den fremden Wegen,
Krankes Herz und müde Glieder; -
Ach, da fließt, wie stiller Segen,
Süßer Mond, dein Licht hernieder;
Süßer Mond, mit deinen Strahlen
Scheuchest du das nächt’ge Grauen;
Es zerrinnen meine Qualen,
Und die Augen übertauen.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1,
lines 1-2 (C). The
first two lines of stanza 1 are set to very unstable music that
enters without introduction. One half-line per bar is
retained, as in the previous song. The phrases again
generally move down, but this time more stepwise than by broken
chords. The accompaniment is in bare octaves that form
harmony (thirds) between the hands. This pattern breaks
slightly in the second and fourth bars. The opening key is
B-flat minor (not
major), moving quickly and strikingly to G-flat major in the
0:18 [m. 5]--The second
line is very dramatically repeated, reaching the highest vocal
note and the only forte
in either of the two songs in a sharp motion to G minor. The
second half of the line (four syllables) is elongated to three
bars, as had been done in Sommerabend.
elongation, the harmonies and the four sigh figures from 1:34 [m.
23] and 2:28 [m. 34] of
the previous song are heard in succession, confirming the
link. The four chords and sigh figures form a very active
chain of chords (moving through the circle of fifths), and create
a sense of great anticipation.
0:48 [m. 10]--Stanza 1,
lines 3-4 and Stanza 2, lines 1-2 (A’’). These four lines, overlapping the
stanzas of the poem, are set to the same vocal music as stanzas 1
and 3 of Sommerabend.
The countermelody in the accompaniment moves yet another octave
higher, and is now mostly above the vocal line. The
syncopated after-beats are retained from Stanza 1 of the first
song, but now move down and up in arching lines, and are often
harmonized with a second note.
1:33 [m. 19]--Stanza 2,
lines 3-4 (Coda).
The voice and piano come together on the home keynote, and the
syncopated after-beats continue on that note. The voice then
enters with new music, beginning with another striking motion to
G-flat. The line is in quite a high register. The last
line moves back to the home key. The entire passage slows
and softens. The piano now plays broken chords in an
irregular triplet rhythm in the left hand (similar to Stanza 3 of
Sommerabend), and a
variation of the countermelody from the main stanzas (moving
steadily upward) in the right.
2:10 [m. 25]--The postlude
continues the accompaniment pattern of the last lines, but the
patterns of the right hand now move downward and are shorter, only
using their last half.
2:23 [m. 27]--The unstable
chords from the beginning of Sommerabend,
heard in the piano’s tenor register (an octave lower than the
opening of the first song) return to round off the song
pair. They are resolved in a third, final B-flat major chord
that gently releases all tension and seems to melt away.
2:54--END OF SONG [29 mm.]
3. Mädchenlied (Girl’s
Song). Text by Siegfried Kapper, adapted from a
Serbian folk poem. Gehend (Steadily moving).
Three-part simple strophic form with coda. A MINOR, 5/4
time, with three bars of 6/4 at the end (Middle key F minor, low
key E minor).
(The title Mädchenlied is
for Op. 95, No. 6 and Op. 107, No. 5.)
Ach, und du mein kühles Wasser!
Ach, und du mein rotes Röslein!
Was erblühst du mir so frühe?
Hab’ ja nicht, für wen dich pflücken!
Pflück’ ich dich für meine Mutter?
Keine Mutter hab’ ich Waise!
Pflück’ ich dich für meine Schwester?
Ei doch, längst vermählet ist sie!
Pflück’ ich dich für meinen Bruder?
Ist gezogen in die Feldschlacht!
Pflück’ ich dich für den Geliebten?
Fern, ach, weilet der Geliebte!
Jenseit dreier grünen Berge,
Jenseit dreier kühlen Wasser!
The irregular meter, the narrow vocal range, and other aspects
are, accidentally or not, actually typical of Serbian folk music.
0:00 [m. 1]--Introduction.
meter is established as 3+2, with six short notes in the first
three beats and two long ones in the fourth and fifth beats.
This rhythm prevails throughout the song. The two-bar
introduction establishes the range and harmonic motion of the
four-bar verses. The right hand plays a pleasant oscillation
in sixths while the left plays strong upward moving triplet
arpeggios against it, resting on the last beat.
0:08 [m. 3]--Stanza
1. The first two lines are very similar, only differing at
the end. The third line jumps an octave from the end of the
second, to the highest vocal note. The fourth line begins
with a strong dissonance against the piano, but moves to a gentle,
full cadence. The piano accompaniment is rather simple, with
many after-beats in the right hand.
0:24 [m. 7]--Interlude.
right hand is the same as in the introduction. The left hand
is different, with more winding triplet motion that begins after
the beat, and straightening to two notes on the fourth beat.
0:33 [m. 3]--Stanza
2. Musical repetition of stanza 1.
0:51 [m. 7]--Interlude as
0:59 [m. 9]--Stanza
3. Musically nearly identical to the other two stanzas, but
notated separately so that Brahms can add an accented emphasis to
the last two lines, illustrating the main cause of the girl’s
1:17 [m. 13]--Coda.
The music in the piano is as in the two interludes, but now the
singer joins with the piano melody for the final couplet.
1:25 [m. 15]--The meter
unexpectedly lengthens to 6/4 for the ending. The piano now
plays the music of the introduction, complete with the original
left hand accompaniment, but adds an extra rest to both hands at
the end of each bar for the sixth beat. The singer soars to
a higher line with longer, more regular notes (long-short
alternation) in a wistful, less emphatic repetition of the last
line that avoids a full close. One final bar of piano
1:44--END OF SONG [17 mm.]
4. Ade! (Adieu!). Text by
Siegfried Kapper, adapted from a Czech (Bohemian) folk poem.
Bewegt (With motion). Simple strophic form. B MINOR,
2/4 time (Low key G minor).
Wie schienen die Sternlein so hell, so hell
Herab von der Himmelshöh’.
Zwei Liebende standen auf der Schwell’,
Ach, Hand in Hand: »Ade!«
Die Blümlein weinten auf Flur und Steg,
Sie fühlten der Liebenden Weh,
Die standen traurig am Scheideweg,
Ach, Herz an Herz: »Ade!«
Die Lüfte durchrauschen die Waldesruh’,
Aus dem Tal und von der Höh’
Wehn zwei weiße Tücher einander zu:
»Ade, ade, ade!«
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. With no introduction, the voice begins with an
upbeat. The vocal melody itself is folk-like, but the
accompaniment is what gives the song its character. Groups
of six notes in the right hand against slower groups of three in
the left go against the prevailing duple meter of the vocal
line. A rustling effect is created. The third line is
brighter than the first two, but the more passionate first
statement of the fourth line is firmly in minor.
0:23 [m. 17]--The fourth
line of the stanza is repeated, and unexpectedly shifts to the
home major key. The groups of six in the piano right hand
now include a countermelody on the first note of every
three. The left hand abandons its groups of three and plays
slow syncopations. Under the last vocal note, the right hand
abandons the rustling accompaniment altogether and plays a variant
of the new countermelody in slower straight notes. Brahms
gives two choices for the last two vocal notes (on the titular
word “Ade!”), the high ending heard in the first statement of the
line or a darker, minor-tinged low version. Fischer-Dieskau
chooses the low version here (which is standard in the first two
0:32 [m. 1]--Stanza
2. Musical repetition of stanza 1, with some minor rhythmic
alterations to fit the syllables and declamation of the text (one
note is split into two repeated notes or two repeated notes are
joined into one longer note).
0:56 [m. 17]--Repetition
of the last line of the stanza, as at 0:23. Again, the lower
version of the last two notes is used.
1:06 [m. 23]--Stanza
3. Because the declamation is even more varied, Brahms
writes out the third stanza anew. The third line is
especially altered, beginning a full beat earlier than before, at
the beginning of a bar where there had been a rest. This
emphasizes the continued clause (enjambment) between the second
and third lines of the poetic stanza. Otherwise, the music
is the same.
1:30 [m. 39]--Repetition
of the last line of the stanza. This time, Fischer-Dieskau
takes the more hopeful higher option on the last two notes.
The continued repetitions of “Ade!” in the last line create an
especially wistful effect at the end of the song.
1:45--END OF SONG [44 mm.]
5. Frühlingslied (Spring Song). Text by
Emanuel Geibel. Lebhaft (Lively). Ternary form
(ABA). G MAJOR, 4/4 time (Low key E major).
Mit geheimnisvollen Düften
Grüßt vom Hang der Wald mich schon,
Über mir in hohen Lüften
Schwebt der erste Lerchenton.
In den süßen Laut versunken
Wall’ ich hin durchs Saatgefild,
Das noch halb vom Schlummer trunken
Sanft dem Licht entgegenschwillt.
Welch ein Sehnen! welch ein Träumen!
Ach, du möchtest vorm Verglühn
Mit den Blumen, mit den Bäumen,
Altes Herz, noch einmal blühn.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1 (A). The vocal line
begins with a wide, difficult near-octave leap and continues to
arch and soar. The accompaniment is breathless, with triplet
rhythms in the left hand clashing with straight two-note groups
beginning after the beat in the right. There are many sudden
and unexpected chord changes and chromatic harmonies.
0:08 [m. 5]--Before the
last two lines, the right hand begins an oscillating dotted
rhythm. The voice reaches its highest pitch and moves
strongly down in steps before the end of the stanza. The
piano right hand breaks the dotted rhythm to harmonize the
stepwise descent, then begins it again for the following brief
0:20 [m. 11]--Stanza 2 (B). The accompaniment
resumes the oscillating dotted rhythm in the right hand. The
vocal line is narrower in range, but even more harmonically
active, moving to C and B-flat.
0:28 [m. 15]--For the last
two lines of the stanza, the right hand of the piano changes to a
leaping syncopated rhythm beginning and continuing after the
beat. The music rises in exuberance here, as the seed
reaches toward the light in the text. It erupts into an
interlude marked animato
with descending chords continuing in syncopation as the home key
0:38 [m. 20]--Stanza 3 (A). It is introduced by
rising dissonances continuing in the syncopated rhythm.
After the voice enters, the music is mostly as in the first
stanza, but with more animation and at louder volume.
0:45 [m. 24]--With the
last two lines, the dotted rhythm oscillation begins again, as at
0:08 [m. 5]. It now continues with the harmonization of the
stepwise descent, and there are other slight differences in
preparation for the repetition of the last line.
0:53 [m. 28]--The last
line is repeated, which is appropriate for the text, which speaks
of renewal. The piano, then the voice, echo the strong
stepwise descent. The voice gradually slows down. The
postlude is extremely exuberant and expands the rising dissonances
that introduced stanza 3.
1:11--END OF SONG [33 mm.]
6. In Waldeseinsamkeit
(In the Loneliness of the Forest).
Karl Lemcke. Langsam (Slowly). Three-part
through-composed form, with partial return. B MAJOR, 4/4
time (Middle key G major, low key F-sharp major).
Ich saß zu deinen Füßen
Ging durch die Wipfel breit.
In stummen Ringen senkt’ ich
Das Haupt in deinen Schoß,
Und meine bebenden Hände
Um deine Knie ich schloß.
Die Sonne ging hinunter,
Der Tag verglühte all,
Ferne, ferne, ferne
Sang eine Nachtigall.
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza
1. Two bars of gentle opening chords with a static bass set
up the mood. The first two lines leisurely wind downward,
each set to a similar line. Under them, the piano part
becomes gently active. After the second line, there is a
brief echo of the voice in the piano.
0:23 [m. 7]--For the last
two lines of the stanza, there is a turn to the minor. The
vocal line now ranges widely, slowly climbing upward and then more
rapidly falling. The highest note is on the word “Sehnen”
(“longing”). The increasing intensity of the line suggests
longing and anticipation. Under the line, the piano plays
syncopations and dissonant “sigh” figures.
0:37 [m. 11]--Stanza
2. For the first two lines, the music becomes more unstable
and agitated. The accompaniment continues as at the end of
stanza 1, but the vocal line includes shorter notes. The
dissonances become more pronounced, and the key shifts and settles
on D major.
0:50 [m. 15]--The last two
lines of the stanza are the emotional and musical climax The
vocal line becomes even more agitated, introducing a triplet
rhythm on the word “bebenden” (“trembling”). The bass slides
down for the fourth line. The third line is then repeated a
half-step lower than before, beginning the motion back home.
The repetition of the fourth line is highly varied and serves as a
transition as the notes become longer and the music arrives back
at the home key, merging into the return of the opening chords.
1:15 [m. 21]--Stanza
3. The first two lines are set to the same music as those of
the first stanza, including the echo in the piano. This is
only a partial return, as the remainder of the third stanza
diverges greatly into one of Brahms’s most atmospheric and
memorable song endings.
1:34 [m. 25]--The
threefold repetition of “ferne” is set to an upward questioning
gesture that is reminiscent of the “Ade!” calls from the fourth
song in the set, making yet another subtle connection within the
group. This gesture is echoed in the piano in syncopated
thirds moving in the opposite direction. The left hand now
moves in a clashing triplet rhythm. The second and fourth of
these echoes is higher and includes a tinge of the minor
key. The last repetition of the word slides down a
half-step, the music again noticeably shifting harmony, again to
D. The music is steadily softer and slower.
1:51 [m. 28]--The last
rising “ferne” merges into the last line, which begins on the
song’s highest pitch (which was also reached in the last half of
the first stanza). The music here is vaguely similar to what was
heard there. The piano adds a new flowing line, and the
gentle descent settles sweetly on the home key. The line is
repeated to close the song, with the final notes echoing the
rising gesture heard in the repetitions of “ferne.”
Dissonant tinges continue in the accompaniment until the final,
2:32--END OF SONG [33 mm.]
END OF SET
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