Gesang der Parzen op. 89
Schicksalslied op. 54
Sinfonie Nr. 4 e-Moll op. 98
Conductor Titus Engel
Before composing his fourth symphony Brahms discussed the idea with his friend, the conductor Hans von Bülow, about using the chaconne from Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata ‘Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich’ as the basis for the final movement. Brahms
did indeed construct the finale of the Fourth Symphony – he himself conducted the first performance in Meiningen – as a powerful orchestral chaconne, with which he concluded his symphonic oeuvre and which brings the Brahms cycle in Erl to a
close. Incidentally, conductor Titus Engel came across a remarkable photograph from the time of Brahms, showing the string section of the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Hans von Bülow, and how they play standing, with the exception of the
celli. Engel takes this as a historic inspiration and in the Brahms cycle the string section will stand, in order to achieve better sound presence. The dark and bitter mood of the fourth symphony also permeates the symphonic choral works Song of Destiny (from Hölderlin’s novel Hyperion) and the Song of the Fates (from Goethe’s play Iphigenie auf Tauris). The works express the privileged status of the gods and genies living in heavenly regions, in contrast to human beings bound in nocturnal depths in gloom and uncertainty – a central theme not least of the entire symphonic philosophical music of Johannes Brahms.