SIX SONGS (LIEDER), OP. 85
Recording: Jessye Norman, soprano (No. 3); Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau,
baritone; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449 633-2]
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 from 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, No. 2.
Note: Links to English translations of the texts are from Emily Ezust's
site at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder.
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.
FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (Edition Peters, edited by Max
1: Sommerabend (original key)
2: Mondenschein (original key)
3: Mädchenlied (original key)
3: Mädchenlied (in low key, E minor)
4: Ade! (original key)
5: Frühlingslied (original key)
6: In Waldeseinsamkeit (original key)
6: 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.
(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
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 song (#2).
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
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
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.
this 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'').
overlapping the stanzas of the poem, are set to the same vocal music as
stanzas 1 and 3 of Sommerabend.
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
1:33 [m. 19]--Stanza 2, lines
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
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,
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.
(The title Mädchenlied is
used 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.
5/4 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.
The 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
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
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 chords.
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.
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
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
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.
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 interlude.
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 returns.
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).
by Karl Lemcke. Langsam (Slowly). Three-part
through-composed form, with partial return. B MAJOR, 4/4 time.
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”
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, quiet chords.
2:32--END OF SONG [33 mm.]
END OF SET
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