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: Jessye Norman, soprano; Daniel Barenboim, piano [DG 449
A fine recording of these songs performed as duets does exist,* but
this guide will use Jessye Norman's wonderful solo version.
Note: Links to English translations of the texts
are from Emily Ezust's
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.
1. Sommerabend (Summer Evening). Text by Hans
Schmidt. Andante con moto. Alternating strophic form
(ABAB). D MINOR/MAJOR, 2/4 time.
(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 [m. 1]--Stanza 1. No introduction. The mother's
"voice" begins immediately in a low, hollow minor melody. There
are "blue" notes on "fällt" and "Tau." Piano accompaniment
is rather stark, with syncopated chords in the right hand. The
last line is repeated (and will be in all four stanzas).
0:28 [m. 21]--Stanza 2. The daughter's response very suddenly
shifts to major, and is much brighter and higher. The piano
accompaniment is in a more flowing triplet (groups of three)
rhythm. It shifts back to the syncopation at the third
line. After the repetition of the fourth line, the accompaniment
settles down in a brief interlude and again turns to minor.
0:57 [m. 47]--Stanza 3. The mother's second injunction to the
daughter to sleep is set to the same music as the first after a smooth
transition. The "blue" note on "Kauz" ("screech owl") is
appropriate. Note the textual parallels to Stanza 1.
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 the same as the previous
interlude, but closes on the major chord rather than turning to minor.
1:57--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.
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 [m. 1]--2-bar piano introduction is halting and hesitant to
establish the 6/8 "flow."
0:04 [m. 3]--Stanza 1. Daughter's first mock "complaint" is set
to a mock-melancholy melody in G minor. 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.
0:12 [m. 8]--The flow in both hands of the piano stops, with the left
hand continuing, then the hands alternating the continuing
rhythm. For the third line of the stanza, the music moves to a
major key (B-flat, relative to G minor). The last four words are
repeated in slower, drawn-out notes. The piano also slows down to
the "halting" character of the introduction. The daughter's last
word arrives with a two bar piano transition to the next stanza.
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 a bit of a sweeping character and the continuous "flow" is
now in the right hand of the piano.
0:41 [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 and the
introductory "hesitant" two bars from the opening.
0:58 [m. 31]--Stanza 3. The daughter's reply begins as in stanza
1, but reaches higher for "fest das Haar." A full bar now
separates this music from the last two lines.
1:08 [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. The "flowing" accompaniment
gains more sweep. The singer repeats not only the daughter's
"Mutter," but also the entire last line to a slowed
accompaniment. With the daughter expressing her true feelings,
the music is more excited than what has gone before. The
excitement continues into the four-bar postlude, where the "flowing"
accompaniment resumes and is finally cut off by three sharp chords.
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.
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 [m. 1]--Exuberant 4-bar introduction, with syncopation in the
0:03 [m. 5]--Stanza 1 (A).
The mother's imperative begins in the exuberant vein of the
introduction, whose rhythm continues in the piano. The last note of
line 3 and line 4 make a sudden dark turn toward G minor. An
interlude of chords with inner motion follows.
0:19 [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, but the same
accompaniment continues in the piano until line 3, where smooth runs
0:29 [m. 37]--Moving the opposite direction from the mother, the
daughter's last line makes a very bright turn back home to E-flat, and
is repeated with even more exuberance. The four-bar introduction
follows to lead to the mother's next verse.
0:38 [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 "inner motion" chords follow as before.
0:54 [m. 69]--Stanza 4 (B').
The daughter's response begins as before, in B major. The third
line is expanded and repeated for emphasis, the vocal line becoming
smoother and the "smooth runs" in the piano more colorful.
1:07 [m. 85]--The last line is nearly the same as at 0:29, moving to
E-flat and repeated with the exuberant rhythm, but the top note is held
and drawn out for an extra bar (on the word "viele"). The
introduction is repeated with a final chord to close the song.
1:26--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.
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 [m. 1]--Very brief introduction anticipates the first vocal
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. 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 third line, the piano becomes less active,
consisting of 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 this performance, the singer
slows down slightly for the first statement of line five. A
slightly expanded version of the piano introduction, adding three extra
rising notes before the original gesture, links the verses.
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
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 varies her voice to distinguish the girl from the
boy. The "pause" on the first statement of line five is more
pronounced as well. The "linking" introduction suddenly shifts to
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 mode
shifts back to major for the repetitions
of line five. The "link" is now varied, doing away with the
longer notes and adding an additional rising gesture 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.
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 and acquiring a light and
"skipping" character (replacing the punctuating chords) at the third
line. The "pause" is again
emphasized by the singer in this recording. A short postlude
resembling the last interlude (with the higher-rising line) closes the
song (and apparently the window) with forceful chords.
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.
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
not translated here. It is possibly "precious" or perhaps "one in
0:00 [m. 1]--Piano introduction sets up the rocking, furtive motion of
the first two strophes.
0:05 [m. 4]--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. Note the setting of
"mein Engel" ("my angel") which occurs
at the end of each stanza. The introductory music is repeated as
0:26 [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 slightly changed to move to E minor.
0:48 [m. 25]--Stanza 3. The next pair of verses form the middle,
or B section. Brahms
indicates that they should be slightly faster. The vocal line is
now in a higher register and the piano accompaniment (at least in the
right hand), is somewhat more active, increasing the "tension."
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 (except in the third line). The ratcheting up of
the key to E minor also serves the purpose of increasing the
The interlude is dispensed with between stanzas 3 and 4.
1:07 [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
moves back to A minor and the return of the material of the first two
1:29 [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. The interlude/introduction from the beginning
now again links the verses.
1:48 [m. 65]--Stanza 6. The last stanza, the girl's final
response, finally and effectively releases the ever-increasing
"tension," as is appropriate for the resolution in the text. The
tension is released by a sudden and magical change of mode to A
MAJOR. The vocal line is similar to that in stanzas 1, 2, and 5,
but is set somewhat higher (usually a third higher). 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
2:04 [m. 82]--In another surprise, the last two lines are repeated,
with a change in direction (up instead of down) in line 3, 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" is part of the resolution of 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 very well as
a solo.* A very brief piano postlude settles things down for the
close of an extremely effective small drama.
2:18--END OF SONG [92 mm.]
END OF SET
*A recording of the opus as duets exists with Juliane Banse, Iris
Vermillion, Andreas Schmide, and Helmut Deutsch on CPO Records.
Note: The guides for numbers 4
and 5 were slightly edited for accuracy in analysis on 8/2/06.
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