Goethe was the poet for Trost in Tränen
, Op 14 (1872, revised in 1873), for baritone soloist, four solo voices (mezzo soprano, tenor and two basses) and optional piano accompaniment. (Cornelius indicated in the score that although he composed it as an a cappella work, as it is heard on this disc, the singers could opt to include the piano accompaniment, which doubles the voice parts.) Goethe wrote Trost in Tränen
as a dialogue between an individual and a group, and Cornelius has maintained that distinction. The baritone has separate text from the other voices, and sings it after the soloists have presented their text once. Thus he gives us two different musical layers that are developed at the same time. Much of the writing for the four voices is homophonic, but there is a fugue-like texture in a quick middle section, and the baritone and the four voices occasionally engage in imitation between themselves. Although Cornelius does not use a traditional form to structure the whole, he does follow the narrative of the text, progressing from sorrow in an opening slow section through a fast march-like section to a calm ending, bespeaking solace. This is a beautiful work that like so much of his choral music expresses comfort over death.
from notes by James Deaville © 2000