Johannes Brahms

Romances (15) from Tieck's "Die schöne Magelone" for voice & piano, Op. 33

    Description by Steven Coburn

    The fact that Brahms never wrote an opera makes any essay into narrative song especially interesting. This set of fifteen songs is Brahms' only effort that is specifically designated as a song cycle. Unlike Beethoven's "An die ferne Geliebte" (To the Distant Beloved), Schubert's "Die schöne Müllerin" (The Fair Maid of the Mill), or Schumann's "Dichterliebe" (Poet's Love), Brahms' cycle is neither as cohesive in its narrative nor as musically self contained. The actual common thread of the poems relies upon the story from which they are drawn, Wundersame Liebesgeschicte der schönen Magelone und des Grafen Peter aus der Provence (The Wondrous Love Story of the Beautiful Magelone and Count Peter of Provence) by Ludwig Tieck. Brahms chose fifteen of the eighteen poems interspersed throughout the novella. These poems draw upon a common thread in Brahms' choice of literature, being romantic in tone yet medieval in their evocation of chivalric love. If it were not for the background of this novella, these songs might be considered similar to the Opus 32 songs, related in theme, but lacking a cohesive narrative. But as we have the background, the cycle must be accepted in terms of the story and the various poem's relationships to it.

    Some of these songs are lyrical commentaries on the narrative, while others are songs within the story itself. The first is the minstrel's worldly advice to the lovers while the last is a duet of love, cast as a unison solo. There are love songs, Numbers 4, 5 and 7, and there is a lullaby, Number 9. Peter is the protagonist in most of the songs, but Magelone is the principal voice in Number 11, and Number 13 belongs to Sulima, the secondary love interest. Most of these songs are set in standard forms, such as ternary (A B A), or expanded ternary (ABABA) or varied strophic (repeated verses varied each time). Only Number 13 is set in simple strophic form to illustrate the simple Sulima. In spite of this apparent simplicity of form, many of these songs take on an almost operatic expansiveness, length and variety of expressive detail. In this regard, they are quite different from the Lieder und Gesänge of Opus 32, and bear a much greater similarity to Brahms' great chamber and instrumental works in their complexity and seriousness of expression. These fifteen songs are arranged in five sets of three songs each. Although Brahms stated that he was not opposed to independent performance of the various numbers, their lack of specific titles, and the ongoing narrative connection make them most effective as a set. Today, they are never performed separately, in spite of the great length of the set, lasting nearly an hour performed in its entirety.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Keinen hat es noch gereut
    2. Traun! Bogen und Pfeil sind gut für den Feind
    3. Sind es Schmerzen, sind es Freuden
    4. Liebe kam aus fernen Landen
    5. So willst du des Armen
    6. Wie soll ich die Freude
    7. War es dir, dem diese Lippen bebten
    8. Wir müssen uns trennen
    9. Ruhe, Sussliebchen, im Schatten
    10. Verzweiflung
    11. Wie schnell verschwindet so Licht als Glanz
    12. Muss es eine Trennung geben
    13. Sulima
    14. Wie froh und frisch mein Sinn sich hebt
    15. Treue Liebe dauert lange

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Warner Classics 557828
    2015 Belvedere BCD08001
    2014 Capriccio Records C 5203
    2014 Hyperion CDJ 33125
    2011 Membran 232763
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945635229
    2009 DG Deutsche Grammophon 477 818-3
    2009 BBC Legends 42552
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921741
    2007 Lyrichord Classical 6007
    2006 Brilliant 92891
    2005 Orfeo D'Or 339050
    2003 Ondine 755
    2001 CPO 999443
    2000 Teldec 80916
    2000 Ars Musici 1191
    2000 Berlin Classics 0094 092BC
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 66162
    1998 Orfeo D'Or 490981
    1996 DG Deutsche Grammophon 449 633-2GJB7
    1995 Orfeo 116842
    1994 Teldec 90854
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 64820
    1992 Tudor Records 761
    Brilliant Classics 93936
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 427334
    Brilliant 92891/6
    Historical Performers 1
    BIS 70
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 02894775270
    Music & Arts 948
    As Disc 2602