Johannes Brahms' music is one moment as grand and bushy as his huge beard, to be soft and heartfelt in the next. Malmö Opera's Chorus and Orchestra get to use their entire large tonal spectrum and their rich register of expressions in two songs about man's arduous lot on earth and the heavenly peace that awaits, and both the stormy and lyrical third symphony.
Brahms was constantly pondering the big questions and was always preoccupied with thoughts of death. But he did not fear it, quite the contrary. For him, it was earthly life that meant sorrow and difficulties, death seemed easier and more restful. For songs and choral music, Brahms gladly chose lyrics that were about a peaceful existence on the other side.
Here he was burdened with anxiety.
There he will enjoy eternal peace and joy.
This is a line from Beväbnisgesang - Begravninghymn by the 16th century preacher Michael Weisse. It sounds as if the choral melody also came from Weisse's time, but it is Brahms' own. Funeral song is only 7 minutes long, but in the short time contains everything from grief and fear to hope and confidence, and can be seen as a feasibility study for Brahms' huge Requiem that came 10 years later. Not least, we can recognize the fate-saturated drums, which also rumble on in Schicksalslied - Brahms' composition of Hyperion's Fate Song from Friedrich Hölderlin's novel. Man's future looked bleak, Hölderlin thought.
The gods, they walk with easy steps in the heavenly light, but man is given to never find peace. She must constantly be thrown against the rocks in the rushing waterfall of life. But after the relentless treatment, Brahms ends with heavenly sweet and comforting sounds.
The third symphony begins with a passionate exclamation based on the notes F-Ab-F, after the musical motto Frei aber Froh (Free but happy) which Brahms adopted in response to his good friend Joseph Joachim's F-A-E, Frei aber einsam (Free but alone) ). Brahms did not have to be alone, he had constant contact with Clara Schumann, who was his friend and mentor, and probably more than that. As always, Brahms wanted to hear Clara's views on the new symphony. She could be very sharp in her criticism, but this time she only had praise, "every sentence is like a heartbeat, like a jewel!". The Third Symphony has become one of Brahms' most beloved works, and the melodic third movement has been sung i.a. by Frank Sinatra in the ballad Be my Love and by Jane Birkin with the text Babe alone in Babylone.