TAFELLIED--“DANK DER DAMEN” (“THE LADIES’ TOAST”), GLEE FOR
SIX-VOICE MIXED CHORUS AND PIANO, OP. 93b
In terms of performance time (but not musical content),
this is Brahms’s shortest separately numbered work. It is also
perhaps the most singular. Although the vocal quartets have
always been frequently sung by small choirs (a practice of which Brahms
approved in most cases), this is the only published piece specifically
written for full choir with piano (rather than organ or orchestral)
accompaniment. It is also perhaps unexpected that Brahms would
write something so “frivolous” as a drinking glee, although the words
are by one of the great German romantic poets. It was written for
the community choral society in Krefeld, which celebrated its fiftieth
anniversary in 1885. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the little chorus
transcends its genre and makes an extremely satisfying effect through
careful planning and an extremely brilliant ending. By using
three basic forms of the verse and alternating between three-part men
and three-part women, Brahms ensured that each group sang each verse
form exactly twice. The groups come together for the exciting
final stanza. Perhaps realizing that it was a slight work, but
also that it was worthy of publication, Brahms decided to share the
opus number 93 with the just-published unaccompanied part songs, Op.
93a (so “separately numbered” must be qualified). The piece is,
however, actually closer in character to the vocal quartets (such as
the contemporary Op. 92), and could convincingly be presented by a
sextet of solo voices.
Recording: North German Radio Chorus, conducted by Günter Jena;
Gernot Kahl, piano [DG 449 646-2]
Published 1885. To
the friends in Krefeld on January 28, 1885.
Note: The link to the English translation of the text is from Emily
site at http://www.recmusic.org/lieder.
For the most part, the translation is line-by-line, except where the
difference between German and English syntax requires slight
alterations to the contents of certain lines. The German text
(included here) is also visible in the translation link.
ONLINE SCORE FROM IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut
Tafellied--“Dank der Damen” (“The
Ladies’ Toast”). Text by Joseph Karl Benedikt von
Eichendorff. Allegretto grazioso. Alternating strophic
form. B-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4 time.
Gleich wie Echo frohen Liedern
Fröhlich Antwort geben muß,
So auch nahn wir und erwidern
Dankend den galanten Gruß.
Oh, ihr Güt'gen und Charmanten!
Für des Echos holden Schwung
Nehmt der lust'gen Musikanten
Ganz ergebne Huldigung!
Doch ihr huldigt, will's uns dünken,
Andern Göttern nebenbei.
Rot und golden sehn wir's blinken
Sagt, wie das zu nehmen sei?
Teure! zierlich, mit drei Fingern,
Sichrer, mit der ganzen Hand -
Und so füllt man aus den Dingern 's
Glas nicht halb, nein, bis zum Rand.
Nun, wir sehen, ihr seid Meister.
Doch wir sind heut liberal;
Hoffentlich, als schöne Geister,
Treibt ihr's etwas ideal.
Jeder nippt und denkt die Seine,
Und wer nichts Besondres weiß:
Nun - der trinkt ins Allgemeine
Frisch zu aller Schönen Preis!
Recht so! Klingt denn in die Runde
An zu Dank und Gegendank!
Sänger, Fraun, wo die im Bunde,
Da gibt's einen hellen Klang!
0:00 [m. 1]--Stanza 1 (a). The piano plays the gentle
refrain that will provide its interludes as well. The left hand
plays detached broken octaves while the right hand presents the lilting
ascending line with three similar gestures. The women begin with
the jaunty main verse, a bright melody harmonized in three parts.
The piano is reduced to broken octaves until the last line, where right
hand chords are played above bass octaves. The third line
introduces a dotted (long-short) rhythm also heard at the end of the
piano refrain. The last line, with its joyous ascent, is repeated
after a piano bridge on the harmonized dotted rhythm.
0:25 [m. 17]--Stanza 2 (b). The piano refrain moves at
the last minute to the “dominant” key of F major. The first half
of the men’s verse (also in three-part harmony) is set in that
key. It emphasizes the dotted rhythm more than did the main
verse. The piano bass plays low, detached octaves while the right
hand plays ascending, often harmonized three-note figures beginning off
the beat. The second line is repeated with a broader,
higher-reaching range and a leaping bass part.
0:40 [m. 26]--The last two
lines of stanza 2 move abruptly back to B-flat, and the setting
resembles the main verse (a).
The piano now has rolled chords after the beats, the left hand leaping
from its bass octaves. The first statement of the last line is
quite chromatic (half-steps and notes outside the key), but its
repetition comes to another full cadence in B-flat, as had stanza 1.
0:49 [m. 32]--Stanza 3 (c). The piano refrain is
reduced to a single ascending gesture. The women enter with the
third form of the verse. This sets the first line to short
phrases with breaks between them. The first line seems to move to
D major in its first short phrase, but the second short phrase is back
in B-flat. These short phrases are each followed by a piano
refrain gesture. The second line moves more strongly away from
B-flat to D, first suggesting D minor, then decisively to D
major. The piano right hand is slightly syncopated. The
repetition of line 2 swells to a notated hold (fermata) on the “dominant” chord of
1:06 [m. 41]--The last two
lines, as in stanza 2, are more similar to the main verse. They
are sung in D major, with the two lower parts (Alto 1 and Alto 2)
providing a gently propelling oscillation. The music has reached
a loud (forte) level for the
first time. The piano accompaniment is similar to that in the
first two lines of stanza 2, with right hand ascents off the beat, but
the left hand now leaps down to low notes from chords. The last
line is again repeated, suddenly quietly, with a hint of the minor key
at the cadence (in D).
1:16 [m. 47]--Stanza 4 (a). The piano interlude,
rather than using the refrain, now uses downward leaping octaves and
chords in both hands to move back to B-flat and further settle down in
volume. Because the verses alternate between men and women and
because there are three different forms, the women and men now sing on
the verse forms they did not use in the first three stanzas. The
men stretch out the opening upbeat, but the verse is essentially as it
was in stanza 1, with minor changes in the part writing. The
piano part is different, with chords alternating between the right and
left hands. The accompaniment in the last two lines is as in
stanza 1, with the dotted-rhythm bridge between the repetitions of the
1:40 [m. 62]--Stanza 5 (b). The piano refrain leads to
F major, as before stanza 2. The stanza is sung by the women in a
very similar manner to the men in stanza 2, again with some small
changes in part writing. The piano part is slightly altered to
avoid the lower bass octaves under the women and make the left hand
generally lighter. Motion back to B-flat for the third and fourth
lines, and rolled piano chords after the beat, as at 0:40 [m.
26]. The piano left hand is still lighter than it was under the
men in stanza 2.
2:05 [m. 78]--Stanza 6 (c). The piano left hand
suddenly becomes heavy again, and adds lower octaves not present in
stanza 3 to add more support to the men. This is the opposite
process to that in stanzas 2 and 5. The part writing is very
different in the two short phrases in the first line, with some actual
part inversion. The differences are not as great in the second
line. As in stanza 3, there is motion to D major and a swell to
the fermata or hold.
2:21 [m. 87]--The last two
lines begin as in stanza 3 at 1:06 [0:41], with the two bass parts
providing the “propelling oscillation.” The piano part is also
the same here as in stanza 3. The repetition of the last line,
however, is extended. Brahms marks it animato, and there is a palpable
speeding. The men draw out the excitement for the D-major cadence
by stretching out the word “Schönen” (“beautiful ones”), the
tenors reaching their highest note in the song (a high A). The
piano adds strongly descending right hand chords.
2:32 [m. 94]--Stanza 7 (a’). As the men reach their
powerful D-major arrival, the women immediately overlap with the
beginning of the last verse. They sing descending octave leaps on
“Recht so!.” These generally move down the voices, the men
joining in their turn. The second altos do not sing octaves in
their first two statements. The first altos and first basses sing
shorter notes on their octaves. The descending octaves and
overlapping voices lead from D back home to B-flat. All parts
sing “Recht so!” four times except for the second basses (who sing it
three times). These repetitions merge directly into the first two
lines of the verse, which are now more full and rich with all parts
singing. The piano’s double octave leaps in the “bridge” break
into large “outward” leaps on rolled chords and octaves under the
2:41 [m. 102]--The piano drops
out under the last two lines, the voices continuing in their exuberant
block harmony. The lines diverge from their expected direction,
however, and the voices change key again, to a completely surprising G
minor (the relative minor key). The piano joins with a
punctuating bridge, and the voices repeat “einen hellen Klang,” holding
the last chord a bar and a half (a D-major chord that works as the
tension-filled “dominant“ of G minor).
2:51 [m. 109]--The piano again
briefly drops out, and the voices begin their only real passage of
counterpoint in the song for a restatement of the last two lines, the
lower parts leading the upper parts, and the first sopranos entering
last. The music is now in G minor. The piano enters with
the first sopranos, playing thumping bass octaves and right hand chords
after each half-beat. The counterpoint is on a variant of the
stanza 1 music with the “joyous ascents” from the original last line,
now also sung on the last line of the verse. All parts except the
first sopranos (who enter later) and the tenors (who sing longer notes)
repeat “die im Bunde.” The last line is repeated in all parts
except for the tenors, who finish their slow statement of line 3 under
the first statement of the last line in the other parts.
The last line transitions back to B-flat.
3:01 [m. 116]--The home key of
B-flat is finally reached again, and the voices come strongly back
together for a final brilliant statement of the last line in block
harmony. The words “einen hellen Klang” are again repeated to
stretch out the cadence. The piano abandons its previous pattern
of thumping bass octaves and after-beat chords to more closely follow
the voices with block chords. The piano actually imitates the
vocal lines leading into the repetition of “einen hellen Klang.”
The piano continues its block chords (all of them B-flat major chords),
with leaps down to bass octave B-flats in the short, punctuating
3:21--END OF WORK [124 mm.]
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