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Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Die Mainacht"

33 - I64; V7
34 - iii6; I64
35 - I6; vi
36 - ii half-diminished 65; V43/IV
37 - IV6; IV
38 - viio7/V; V
39 - V; V/vi
40 - vi; IV; ii7
41 - vi; vi6; V7/IV
42 - IV7; Fr6
43 - I64; V7/IV
44 - IV7; V7/bII
45 - bII; bII6
46 - V7
47 - V7
48 - I7
49 - I7
50 - I7 , IV64
51 - ii half-diminished 42; I

With little exposure to Brahms, and certainly this aria, I was pleasantly surprised by "Die Mainacht". I found the extent to which the music reflected the text and the nature of the individual was quite superb. In regards to a climax at the end of the piece however, I did not by any means feel like there was a distinct or any definite climax. If I had to posit a guess, assuming there is even a correct answer, I would point to the phrase from measure 40-43. Although a similar if not identical phrase appears in measures 27-30, a combination of the location of the phrase in the text, the text itself, and the following phrases give the line from measures 40-43 a greater semblance of climax. The harmonic color gives a slow chromatic buildup to the high F sharp followed by a chordal descent from said climax giving the line a feeling of an intense buildup of emotion followed by a quicker release signifying almost a relief of sharing the hurts that pang the singer. The chromatic buildup in the beginning anticipates the explosion at the top and serve to intensify the release as the singer exclaims "And the lonely tear", sharing her grief. As stated previously, this harmony is foreshadowed in measures 27-30.

The first appearance of a root position tonic triad appears in measure 5 at the end of the first phrase. This might affect the manner in which I approach the performance in the sense that the tonality is in play from the start, the constant grounding to the tonic provides a reminder and allows for a freer performance. The word "Morgenrot", meaning red dawn, is approached with a tonic triad to end the phrase. This seems to be a very weak, if not confusing manner in which to deal with such a phrase. In my mind a red dawn is a beautiful thing, not to take away from the beauty of a red dawn, but I find it more mysterious, and a tonic triad seems to me to be a more simple and predictable end to a phrase. Perhaps I would approach it with more embellishments to highlight the mysterious nature of a red dawn, or even just to confirm the pure beauty of it. Odd phrase endings happen more than once. The phrase ending at measure 44 has the semblance of a phrase ending but picks up again in the next measure with flat II chords. The phrase ending in 44 on the D. The piano postlude coupled with the ritard. seem to adequately sum up the emotions of the singer. As a performer, I would adjust my facial expressions and body movement to reflect the emotion of the postlude.

1 comment:

Scott said...

42: iiø43 rather than Fr6.
48-50: V7/IV

Morgenrot is harmonized by i6 - VI, pushing to the next measure, so not a phrase ending. Same with m. 44. Give more details about the emotions of the postlude.