WORKS: Gesänge, Opp. 3, 6 & 7
PERFORMER: Juliane Banse (soprano), Andreas Schmidt (baritone), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 441-2
Brahms’s earliest songs (composed in 1852-3) reveal his gift for transforming second-rate texts through musical setting. Schumann arranged for the publication of these pieces, with whose searching self-criticism Brahms proved his own worth as a composer. Beside neatly descriptive word-painting, the strategic use of register and texture crisply evokes the mood of each poem.
On the first disc in CPO’s new survey of Brahms Lieder, Juliane Banse and Andreas Schmidt blend with Helmut Deutsch’s subtly nuanced piano accompaniments to illuminate the individual character of these exquisite miniatures. In Op. 3, for example, Banse cleverly communicates the dialogue between mother and daughter in ‘Liebestreu’ and the deftly intertwined counterpoint in ‘Liebe und Frühling’, while Schmidt’s depiction of loneliness in ‘In der Fremde’ and naturalistic imagery in Lied are deeply affecting.
Love’s stormy nature also preoccupies the other songs in this programme. Witness the disturbing after-shock in ‘Nachwirkung’ and joyous elation in ‘Juchhe!’ (Op. 6), or the hypnotically dreamy atmosphere in ‘Treue Liebe’ (Op. 7).
Beautifully crafted accounts of the folk-style influenced Op. 14 Lieder und Romanzen (published in 1861) – which include vivid scenes of the burning urgency of lovers parting (‘Trennung’) and yearning (‘Sehnsucht’) – complete an absorbing portrait of Brahms’s early songs. Nicholas Rast