|About this Recording
2.110244 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - GERMANY: Bavarian Lakes and Schloss Herrenchiemsee (NTSC)
A Musical Tour of Germany
The Königssee is an Alpine lake. At an altitude of 1975 feet, it stretches over five miles. Boats take visitors the length of the lake, from which the neighbouring mountains can be seen in their massive splendour. The waterfall of the Königsbach is another of the spectacular sights, as the boat passes the imposing rocky peaks. At the south end of the lake is the pilgrimage chapel of St Bartholomä with its two domes, lying at the foot of the sheer cliffs of the Watzmann.
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73 – I. Allegro non troppo
Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent the better part of his career in Vienna, using the summer months for holidays at various country resorts, where he found the tranquillity for composition. The second of his four symphonies, Symphony No. 2 in D major, greeted by some as Brahms’s Pastoral Symphony, was started in the summer of 1877 at the resort of Pörtschach on the Wörthersee and completed at Lichtenthal, near Baden-Baden, in the autumn. The first movement has an air of pastoral serenity, entirely without the deepest melancholy with which Brahms had ironically credited it in a letter to his publisher. [Recording by Alexander Rahbari conducting the BRT Philharmonic Orchestra, Brussels, from Naxos 8.550279]
Donaustauf: Landscape and Castle Ruins
Donaustauf lies a few miles to the east of Regensburg, near the Bavarian forest. The landscape appears through the mists, as the sun sinks. Above the small town are the ruins of a tenth century castle.
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73 – II. Adagio ma non troppo
The slow movement of the symphony is an extended aria, darker in hue than the first movement, but gently meditative rather than tragic.
Berchtesgaden National Park
Berchtesgaden itself was once a principality. The Berchtesgaden National Park covers an area of 81 square miles and includes the Königssee in a nature reserve. Surrounded by imposing mountains, the lower-lying areas provide grazing for cattle, and simple houses for farmers.
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73 – III. Allegretto grazioso (quasi andantino)
The third movement of the symphony, a scherzo, opens with a theme given to woodwind instruments, over a plucked cello accompaniment. This triple metre section is interrupted by a Presto ma non assai in duple time. The first theme returns, to be interrupted once more, this time by a brisk 3/8, after which the first theme is heard once more, in conclusion.
Herrenchiemsee Palace and Park
The Chiemsee is the largest of the Bavarian lakes. The islands in the lake include the Herreninsel with the remarkable palace, the Schloss Herrenchiemsee, built in the later nineteenth century for Ludwig II of Bavaria at a vast cost, in emulation of the Versailles of Louis XIV. The gardens of the palace include fountains of various kinds, some with lions gushing water from their mouths, and a large central fountain with a display of lizards, frogs, tortoise and other creatures, a bizarre foutain menagerie. The façade of the palace includes carved figures, with a group set on the central pediment, round a clock. The palace itself was not completed and part of it remained unfurnished at the time of the King’s mysterious death.
Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73 – IV. Allegro con spirito
The contemporary critic and supporter of Brahms, Eduard Hanslick, detected in the last movement of the symphony the blood of Mozart. At times robustly cheerful, the movement displays the composer’s skill in counterpoint and provides music that Hanslick described as redolent of ‘the spring blossoms of the earth’.
The Chiemsee provides opportunities for recreation. In the lake are three major islands, the Herreninsel, with Ludwig II’s Schloss Herrenchiemsee, the Fraueninsel, with a Benedictine convent, and the Krautinsel, at one time providing vegetables for the monastery on the Herrinsel and for the convent.
Joachim: In Memoriam Heinrich von Kleist
Brahms first met the Hungarian-born violinist Joseph Joachim as a young man in 1853 and the two remained friends for much of their lives, their relationship only clouded when Brahms, with his customary lack of tact, sided with Joachim’s wife when the couple separated. Joachim, who, as a child, had played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Mendelssohn in Leipzig, remained one of the most influential violinists, for many years established as a teacher in Berlin, while continuing his career as a performer. His Elegiac Overture, ‘In memoriam Heinrich von Kleist’, Op. 13, was probably written at the time of the Kleist centenary in 1877. Kleist had committed suicide in 1811 at the age of 34, leaving a legacy that was to prove of great importance in the development of the Romantic movement in Germany. The concert overture is classical in structure. [Recording by Meir Minsky conducting the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, from Naxos 8.554733]
Close the window