Concert

Magdalena Kožená & Yefim Bronfman

Songs and chants

Brahms | Mussorgsky | Shostakovich | Bartók

Roland Barthes called them “fragments of a language of love”: forms of intimacy, affection and desire, but also of desperation, dependency and ruin. Magdalena Kožená and Yefim Bronfman close in on these characterisations of love with songs composed by Johannes Brahms, Modest Mussorgsky, Dmitri Shostakovich and Béla Bartók.

A harpist plays for a young couple in rear view.

Aquatint etching “Love” by Heinrich Vogeler, 1896

© Heinrich Vogeler, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Whenever one hears the name Johannes Brahms, one generally thinks of “major” symphonies or of an equally varied repertoire of chamber music for a wide range of casts. However, Brahms was also thoroughly at home in the vocal genres, leaving behind over 40 collections for one, two or four voices with or without piano accompaniment. His “Lieder” extend from the ideal of easily singable popular songs to artifice and artistic ambition, and this is evident in the selection that has been made for this recital by Magdalena Kožená. In addition, the mezzo-soprano will also perform excerpts from Modest Mussorgsky’s “Nursery” (“Detskaya”) cycle, in which the protagonists – “people with their own little world and no entertaining puppets” (Mussorgsky) – express themselves in unvarnished words. By contrast, cabaret-like brilliance and broken irony are the hallmarks of Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Satires” – music that is dramatised superbly by the ambiguity of the poet Sasha Chorny’s darkly humorous lyrics. Finally, there is the macabre, rustic humour of Béla Bartók’s folkloristic “Village Scenes” (“Dedinské scény”): in the second song, for example, the bride is told that she has gained a husband but lost a lover. Magdalena Kožená is accompanied by the world class pianist Yefim Bronfman.

Concert Programme

Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)
Meine Liebe ist grün op. 63/5
Nachtigall op. 97/1
Verzagen op. 72/4
Bei dir sind meine Gedanken
Von ewiger Liebe

Anklänge op. 7/3
Das Mädchen spricht op. 107/3
Meerfahrt
Der Schmied

Ach, wende diesen Blick op. 57/4
O wüsst’ ich den Weg zurück
Mädchenlied
Unbewegte, laue Luft

Vergebliches Ständchen op. 84/4

Modest Mussorgsky (1839 – 1881)
Detskaya (The Nursery) (1870 – 1872)

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 – 1975)
Satires (Pictures of the Past) op. 109 (1960)

Béla Bartók (1881 – 1945)
Dedinské scény (Village Scenes) (1924)

Cast

Magdalena Kožená mezzo soprano
Yefim Bronfman piano

A Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin event