19th Century Music Brahms Composers Music

Brahms, for Two

This summer, I will be collaborating with singers and performing in a Brahms lieder (song) workshop and concert series in Germany. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to perform with some very talented singers, for my husband, (who hasn’t complained yet about me disappearing overseas for over a month) and, of course, for this gorgeous music that I’m busily learning right now.

I’ve always been drawn to the chamber works by Brahms because he treats the piano as a rich and ever-present partner. Likewise, I hear his lieder as duets between singer and pianist; each instrument depends on the other for support and expression. And, honestly, these songs require work from both musicians! I love a challenge, and it is always most satisfying when a composer places the same demands of technique, depth, and sensitivity from all the instruments involved. It just sets the stage for an exciting performance, and with lieder, a great representation of the poetry.

So, I’ll leave you with a recording of one of my favorites that I’m working on now: Versunken” (drowned), from Sechs Lieder, Op. 86. The poem, by Felix Schumann, depicts love as entrancing waves that roar, mesmerize, and eventually, overcome. In Brahms’ setting, the piano seems to represent these dramatic waves of love, with its constantly fluid texture that moves rapidly through registers. The ecstatic emotion is depicted through the voice’s leaping melodic line. Here’s a Deutsche Grammophon recording on Spotify by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone, and Daniel Barenboim, piano. When I get to Germany and start rehearsing, I’ll upload my own!

Liz