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»Lieder that Thrill Me«

Baritone Matthias Goerne sings a selection of Brahms lieder at the Elbphilharmonie.

»These are all pieces that I have never performed up to now, not at any venue.«

Matthias Goerne

»Brahms and Hamburg – a combination that makes sense,« explains Matthias Goerne. The successful baritone and his longstanding piano partner Alexander Schmalcz have recorded five lieder by the Hamburg composer at the Elbphilharmonie. His choice of material, he says, has to do with the fact that it’s Brahms’s melancholy songs that particularly touch him, »the ones that are dark in mood«.

The Weimar native is one of today’s most versatile and most sought-after baritones. He captivates his audience wherever he appears with his sensitive lieder interpretations and his exceptionally warm and flexible voice. »A voice that makes you addicted,« as one reviewer puts it. With his five Brahms songs, the former Elbphilharmonie Artist in Residence proves this once more.

Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms © Wikimedia Commons

»These are all premieres for me.« :Interview with Matthias Goerne

Brahms: Sonntag, Op. 47/3

A dark mood in Brahms's music doesn't always express the depths of despair. It can be just as tragic when a young man who is wildly in love is only able to observe the unknown beloved from afar. »Wollte Gott, wollte Gott, ich wär’ heute bei ihr!« (If God only wanted, I'd be with her today!) is how he voices his longing in the Brahms lied »Sonntag« (Sunday).

Matthias Goerne sings »Sonntag« by Johannes Brahms

Brahms: Der Gang zum Liebchen, Op. 48/1

Goerne's flexible voice lets the listener share directly the inner restlessness of the harassed lover in Brahms's » Der Gang zum Liebchen« (The Walk to His Sweetheart). It remains an open question whether the hounded walker is really on his way to his sweetheart, or whether he has already missed his last chance.

Matthias Goerne sings »Der Gang zum Liebchen« byJohannes Brahms

Brahms: Serenade, Op. 70/3

»Warum einsam und stumm zärtliche Seelen immer sich quälen« – Why do tender souls always torment themselves, all lonely and silent? This is the painful question asked in Brahms's »Serenade«. It is heard in an apparently exhausted, restful melody, accompanied by a dainty and elegant piano part.

Matthias Goerne sings »Serenade« by Johannes Brahms

Brahms: An den Mond, Op. 71/2

The moon is a central motif in many Romantic poems: it lights up the night, yet it is actually dark itself. In Brahms's expressive song »An den Mond« (To the Moon), the heavenly body becomes the ally of an unhappy lover.

Matthias Goerne sings »An den Mond« by Johannes Brahms

Brahms: Sommerfäden, Op. 72/2

»Scraps of golden love dreams« that turn out to be illusions – in Brahms's »Sommerfäden« (Summer Threads), human feelings are described as »pure fantasy«. To express this mood of resignation, Goerne sings in the low registers and shows how intense »softly« can sound.

Matthias Goerne sings »Sommerfäden« by Johannes Brahms

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