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Name of Work

Brahms, Johannes (1833-1897)
Liebeslieder Walzer (Love Songs) for Vocal Quartet and Piano, Four Hands, Op. 52

I. Rede, Madchen, allzu liebes
II. Am Gesteine rauscht die Flut
III. O die Frauen
IV. Wie des Abends schone Rothe
V. Die grune Hopfenranke
VI. Ein kleiner, hubscher Vogel
VII. Wohl schon bewandt war es
VIII. Wenn so lind dein Auge mir
IX. Am Donaustrande
X. O wie sanft die Quelle
XI. Nein es ist nicht auszukommen
XII. Schlosser auf, und mache Schlosser
XIII. Vogelein durchrauscht die Luft
XIV. Sieh, wie ist die Welle klar
XV. Nachtigall, sie singt so schon & XVI. Ein dunkeler Schacht ist Liebe
XVII. Nicht wandle, mein Licht
XVIII. Es bebet das Gestrauche


Nov 05, 2006

Carol FitzPatrick, Soprano (vocal)
Emily Lodine, Mezzo-Soprano (vocal)
Hoss Brock, Tenor (vocal)
Jeffrey Strauss, Baritone (vocal)
Deborah Sobol, Piano
Kuang-Hao Huang, Piano

Nov 06, 2006

Carol FitzPatrick, Soprano (vocal)
Emily Lodine, Mezzo-Soprano (vocal)
Hoss Brock, Tenor (vocal)
Jeffrey Strauss, Baritone (vocal)
Deborah Sobol, Piano
Kuang-Hao Huang, Piano

BRAHMS-Liebeslieder Walzer (Love Songs) for Vocal Quartet and Piano, Four Hands, Op. 52

Composed in 1869.

Premiered on October 6, 1869 in Karlsruhe with Clara Schumann and Hermann Levi as the pianists.

Brahms settled in Vienna for good in 1869 after becoming thoroughly familiar with the great imperial city during the preceding years. He had given his first piano recital there in 1862, and directed four concerts of the Wiener Singakademie the following year, but then declined that organization’s offer to return for another season as director so that he could continue touring as a pianist. By 1869, however, the lure of Vienna, with its rich cultural life and the many friendships that he had made during earlier visits, proved irresistible. After living for several months in a hotel, in 1870 Brahms moved into the apartment in the Karlgasse that was to be his home for the rest of his life.

Among the first musical products of Brahms’ Viennese residency were the Liebeslieder Walzer, a cycle of pieces for vocal quartet and four-hand piano accompaniment on texts by Georg Friedrich Daumer (1800-1875). These “Love-Song Waltzes,” giddy with the sensuous atmosphere of fin-de-siècle Vienna, were modeled on Schubert’s Deutsche Tänze (German Dances) and the dance music of Joseph Lanner and the Strauss family, but were infused with Brahms’ characteristic harmonic and contrapuntal idiom. Their subject is love — its joys and sorrows, its fulfillments and disappointments — couched in the natural images of sun, moon, stars, birds, flowers, dark woods, stormy seas and mountain torrents. The Liebeslieder Walzer are, perhaps, a curious work for the bachelor German composer to have written, but Brahms’ journalistic champion, Eduard Hanslick, explained that “there is only one word which solves the enigma, and that is — Vienna.... It was not for nothing that this delicate organism was exposed for years to the light, agreeable air of Austria. Even when he was far from Vienna, he must still have caught echoes of Strauss’ waltzes and Schubert’s Ländler, and recalled the pretty girls, the fiery wine, the wooded hills, and all the rest. Those who have watched with sympathy the development of this straight-forward and deep but previously, perhaps, one-sided talent, will greet the waltzes as a happy sign of a rejuvenated and refreshed receptivity, as a sort of conversion to a poetic creed of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.” Brahms, who usually dispensed only cheerfully belittling comments about his own works, spoke highly of this music, assuring his publisher, Fritz Simrock, “I will risk being dubbed an ass if our Liebeslieder do not bring joy to quite a few people.” They did, and Brahms returned to the genre five years later to produce the set of Neue [New] Liebeslieder, Op. 65.

All of the poems for both sets of Liebeslieder Waltzes, save only the final text of the Neue Liebeslieder (by Goethe), are from Polydora, Daumer’s 1855 translations and imitations of love poems and dance songs from such widely scattered regions as Turkey, Sicily, Russia, Spain, Poland and southeast Asia. In these songs, simple in structure, immediate in appeal and irresistibly lyrical, Brahms distilled what British musicologist Malcolm MacDonald, in his 1990 study of the composer, called “coy truisms and apothegms about love.”

Program Notes written by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Performance date: November 5 & 6, 2006

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