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Track(s) taken from CDJ33122

Regenlied, WoO23

First line:
Regentropfen aus den Bäumen
by 1866; published 1908
author of text
unpublished poem inscribed by in 1856 onto the flyleaf of Brahms's copy of Groth's Hundert Blätter: Paralipomena zum Quickborn

Christine Schäfer (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: June 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: April 2011
Total duration: 2 minutes 8 seconds

Cover artwork: Photograph by Benjamin Ealovega.


'The second volume of Hyperion's complete Brahms songs is the generous and imaginatively planned anthology that we have come to expect from these important series compiled by Graham Johnson—witness his excellent Schubert and Schumann series. And it comes, as ever, with richly cross-referenced notes and essays' (BBC Music Magazine)
This unpublished poem was inscribed by the poet on the flyleaf of Brahms’s copy of Klaus Groth’s Hundert Blätter: Paralipomena zum Quickborn, the supplement to Groth’s collection of poetry entitled Quickborn, a huge success with an admittedly limited readership. This was because Quickborn was written in Plattdeutsch, the Low German that was a delight to someone like Brahms, who came from Hamburg; on the other hand, the poems in the slim and modest volume of the Hundert Blätter were in Hochdeutsch, and thus suitable for Lieder setting. Brahms chose no fewer than nine of these as song texts. The date of this inscription was 1856, a few years after the appearance of the book, and it seems that Brahms set to work in attempting to set the words more or less immediately. The result, however, clearly took a long time to come to fruition. The composer seems not to have been pleased with the result, and the song was posthumously published only in 1908. There is something about Groth’s rather dark and negative view of the world that appealed mightily to Brahms. Here the poet seems to imply that reciprocation of love is a cause for even greater sadness than rejection—this recalls the paradox of Heine’s lines, as set by Schumann in Dichterliebe: ‘Doch wenn du sprichst: Ich liebe dich! / So muss ich weinen bitterlich.’ And yet this is a skilful, if slightly foursquare, setting of a text that does not promise much in the way of psychological illustration, and where the main feature of the accompaniment is the mezzo staccato chords between the hands that simulate the sound of falling rain as a metaphor for tears. (These are prophetic of the infinitely more subtle effect of such piano-writing at the opening of the Keller setting Abendregen Op 70 No 4). The harmonic navigation through the text is distinguished and carefully thought-out, and the sound-world (the pacing of chords and plushness of texture where appropriate) is eminently Brahmsian.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2011

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