Favorite Work of April 2015
Every month one member of the Carus team introduces his/her favorite work, whether it be a choral piece, a CD, a songbook or an organ edition. The recommendation in March 2015 was contributed by Claudia Seidl.
Johannes Brahms: Zigeunerlieder
Looking for THE favorite work, I once again, after a long time, scoured my old concert programs. "Peace I leave with you" by Knut Nysted (in: Chorbuch Pueri cantores) is one of the little treasures that makes both the audience and the singers most impressively aware of the fragility of peace and harmony.
But since favorite pieces usually remind one, after all, of particularly beautiful memories, I opted for the Zigeunerlieder op. 103 by Brahms – music which remained with me for a long time after rehearsing for a concert program. It does not contain much traditional Hungarian music, but its spark of vitality is infectious. The cycle was intended for domestic music-making as a quartet and was initially called "Hungarian Love Songs." However, when the publisher wanted the words "or for smaller choir" printed on the first edition in 1888, this conflicted completely with the composer's concept and he replied angrily: "If I mentioned this [an alternative performance by choir], I meant to say: we should implicitly take into account the present day's unfortunate custom of performing everything – with a greater or lesser degree of bad taste – as differently as possible from what the composer wrote...” Today, these objections hardly seem significant anymore. And when one has found a pianist who has mastered the piano part, the songs are frequently sung not only on the concert stage, but also in an intimate setting over a glass of wine, which would probably have pleased the composer far more.
Claudia Seidl is studying musicology at the University of Tübingen and has been working as a volunteer in the Carus editorial department since January 2014.