Pauline Viardot-Garcia: Madrid

20 03 2009

aaa

"My Andalusian princess... a true demon, an angel"

Singer, pianist, and composer Pauline Viardot was born into musical royalty. Both parents and her older sister were famous singers — her father, Manuel Garcia, was the first tenor to sing a high C in full voice. Though born and raised in Paris, she obviously cherished her family’s ties to Spain, which she captures in this energetic and flirtatious piece with its flamenco-inspired rhythms and harmonies.





Franz Liszt: Pace non trovo (I find no peace)

19 03 2009

Death has me in a prison which he neither opens to me nor shuts

"Love has me in a prison which he neither opens to me nor shuts"

Liszt’s three Petrarch Sonnets are virtuosic for both singer and pianist, and the introduction of the first song is one of the most memorable in all of song, in my opinion. Nothing less could accurately express Petrarch’s obsession with a woman whom he could never have.





Christian Sinding: Vaardag (Spring Day)

18 03 2009

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"New blooms spring forth"

In Minnesota, the snow is mostly gone, and the temperatures have risen above freezing — a sure sign of spring!  This lively song captures the joyful mood of seeing the blue skies, the birds, and the buds.

Christian Sinding’s works are attractive and expressive, and perhaps had he not been overshadowed by Grieg and had he not joined the Nazi party in 1941 (apparently as a formality if he wanted his works to be heard), his works would be performed more often today. Fortunately, nearly his entire output is available at IMSLP, so feel free to browse!





Ludwig van Beethoven: Come draw we round a cheerful ring, from Irish songs, WoO 152, No. 11

17 03 2009

No, Gossip Winter, snug within, we have no room for thee.

"No, Gossip Winter, snug within, we have no room for thee."

One of the hallmarks of the Irish is their love of stories, music, and community. Though not Irish, Beethoven caught the festive mood of a celebration in this catchy tune.

Beethoven wrote three sets of Irish songs for voice and string trio at the behest of Scottish folk song collector and publisher George Thomson. The songs range from quick and lively to heart-rendingly touching.

As it is St. Patrick’s day, I was searching for musical scores of Irish music this morning. Since I couldn’t find the Beethoven songs, I offer instead an online volume of Sixty Irish Songs, edited by William Arms Fisher.





John Alden Carpenter: The Sleep that Flits on Baby’s Eyes

16 03 2009

the sleep

"does anybody know from where it comes?"

I was listening to an interview on MPR Mid-morning in which psychology researcher Dacher Keltner, discussing communal structures, mentioned that “babies ensure their own care” by being cute and helpless. And if you’ve ever seen a sleeping baby, you can’t help but smile and say, “AWWWwwww.”  Carpenter captures that sense in music paired with Tagore’s magical/mystical text.

Carpenter is a minor figure in American art song, but his handful of songs are well-crafted, and a pleasure both to hear and to sing. This particular song comes from his cycle of six songs, Gitanjali.





Franz Schubert: Ave Maria

15 03 2009

"O Mother, hear a suppliant child!"

This piece is, quite simply, a classic. The stillness and peace of this prayer to the mother of God are lovely and touching.

Though known primarily in its Latin version, that was not Schubert’s original, and in fact, he never added the latin text; it is an adaption. Schubert took the text from a translation of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake. The text is just as prayerful and meaningful, though, as the Latin, in my humble opinion, and needs to be heard and studied.

For those still fond of the Latin version, I won’t withhold the information 🙂

And for those that prefer the Bach-Gounod version — I hear you and will feature that work soon enough





Edvard Grieg: En svane (A swan)

14 03 2009

Du sang i døden

"Du sang i døden"

The mute swan, it is said, sings only before it is about to die. Grieg crafts a song that captures the swans grace and beauty in life, and the drama of its swan-song.





W.A. Mozart: Dans un bois solitaire (In the solitary woods)

13 03 2009

cap
“L’Amour se réveille de rien… Cupid wakes at nothing”

Just when you think you’re over someone, you go for a walk in the woods, and Cupid shoots you and makes you remember them all over again! No one can capture a story like this and all the emotions like Mozart can!

Thought Mozart primarily used Italian, German, and Latin in his music, he did occasionally use French texts. His other French song of note is Oiseaux, si tous les ans





Alessandro Scarlatti: Se tu della mia morte (If you of my death…)

12 03 2009
If you wont give me death, give me your eyes

"Il dardo del tuo sguardo..."

A mournful song in which a spurned lover blames the beloved for dooming them to death. The two-voice imitation in the piano is a nice illustration of the two characters represented in this song.

Many singers begin by studying what I call the “24 greatest hits.” Sometimes, though, teachers and students alike weary of these tried-and-true friends. The Anthology of Italian Song of the 17th and 18th Centuries includes not only all of the 24 Italian Songs and Arias, they include many less-familiar gems, as well.

There was no translation at recmusic.org, so I’ve written one:

If you, by this strong right hand,
do not want to give the glory of my death,
you give it with your own eyes,
for the dart of your gaze
is that which kills me and consumes me.





Nikolai Karlovich Medtner: Chto ty klonish’ nad vodami / Что ты клонишь над водами (Willow, why forever bending?)

11 03 2009
Every leaf languishes, trembling above the water

"With quivering leaves like greedy lips... every leaf languishes, trembling above the water"

This song is sensuality in text and music — Medtner captures both the willow’s yearning and the flowing water that will never be caught.

Hearing Russian vocal music is rare enough in America, usually limited to Rachmaninoff and Tschaikovsky. Medtner’s works are every bit as virtuosic and rewarding for both performers and listeners, and merit closer study. His works are available on IMSLP, and I encourage singers and pianists alike to dig in!