Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. The site is also available in several languages.
Please use the dropdown buttons to set your preferred options, or use the checkbox to accept the defaults.
The second song, Ich wandte mich, und sahe an (I turned, and saw all the injustice that is done under the sun), is more deeply pessimistic in character. The pain evoked by the melisma in quavers (at the repeat of the word 'Tränen'—tears—in bar 21) is acute. Such extreme pathos is rarely encountered in Brahms’ music. The Alto Rhapsody comes to mind, though the quite different source of bitterness there was probably unrequited love. Although in the coda Brahms turns from G minor to G major, any sense of comfort is negligible.
O Tod, wie bitter bist du (O death, how bitter is the remembrance of thee) begins in E minor and 3/2 before moving into the relative warmth of E major and a more expansive 4/2. Brahms’ fondness for falling thirds, as at the beginning of his fourth symphony, is evident here, though the tone here is more declamatory. This is among Brahms’ profoundest and most powerful songs.
Wenn ich mit Menschen (Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels) marks a significant departure from the first three songs. The theme of St Paul’s sermon is charity, but the Lutheran Bible translates the original 'caritas' as 'liebe' ('love', not 'charity') and here Brahms clearly exults in love as the only quality which can surpass the power of death. The song begins with striding rhythm and impressive grandeur but St Paul’s text warns against spiritual emptiness ('I would be like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal'). An adagio section in B major brings tender lyricism, with dolce triplets in the accompaniment. The contrast here makes the grandeur of the opening section seem relatively hollow. A return to the principal key of E flat, with the faster tempo of the opening, eventually leads to the triplet-accompanied, achingly beautiful and serene close (Sostenuto un poco). Apparently, in Wenn ich mit Menschen Brahms drew upon music from earlier songs which, it has been suggested, were linked with his feelings of unrequited love for Elisabeth von Herzogenberg, a pianist who had briefly studied with Brahms.
While compiling this disc, Julian Bliss and James Baillieu looked for something less predictable. Julian has arranged other songs including some by Rachmaninov, but for this Brahms CD the performers chose the Four serious songs because of their dark, death-related character, also because they date from just after the two clarinet sonatas. The only difference in the melodic line is the upward octave transposition. Among other instrumental arrangements of these songs is one recorded by the great cellist Daniil Shafran.
from notes by Phillip Borg-Wheeler © 2021
|Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas & Vier ernste Gesänge|
Two of the finest chamber musicians around today revel in the supreme craftsmanship of Brahms's sublime clarinet sonatas—works inspired by the great clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld whose Mozartian brilliance coaxed the composer out of retirement to ...» More
|Brahms: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4 - Robert Holl|
Graham Johnson is both mastermind and pianist in this series of Brahms’s complete songs. Volume 4 presents the bass-baritone Robert Holl, famed for his weighty interpretations of this repertoire. Included are all songs of Op 94, as well as the Vie ...» More
|Schubert: Schwanengesang; Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge|
An inspired coupling of two contrasting yet complementary sets of ‘swansongs’.» More
|Wolf & Brahms: Lieder|
Alastair Miles—internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading basses—explores some gems of the Lieder repertoire from Hugo Wolf and Johannes Brahms, ably accompanied by pianist Marie-Nöelle Kendall.» More