Edvard Grieg: Jeg elsker dig (I love you / Ich liebe dich)

4 04 2009
Thought of my thoughts alone have you become

"Thought of my thoughts alone have you become"

The thought of being so in love with someone that you want to be near them into eternity is quite romantic, so romantic, in fact, that once Grieg set Hans Christian Andersen’s poem Jeg elsker dig to music, it soon had multiple singing translations in German, English, and other languages (I have located numerous editions, all widely published and performed, with no less than two in German and five in English!) The song was included in the 1944 operetta Song of Norway by Robert Wright and George Forrest.





Robert Schumann: Waldesgespräch (Conversation in the wood)

31 03 2009
Lorelei

"Great are the deceit and cunning of men"

On a late, cold evening a man rides through the woods. He meets a beautiful woman who tells him to leave. When he recognizes her as the Lorelei, she condemns him to remain lost in the woods forever. The last strains of the song return to the horn-call motive of the man, but he does not sing; his voice has been silenced.





Johannes Brahms: Liebesklage des Maedchens (The maiden’s love lament)

24 03 2009
So hat mich Liebe verwundt

"So hat mich Liebe verwund't"

Brahms’s songs sound simple. The mark of a master, though, is to make the difficult seem effortless, and Brahms, Norman, and Barenboim accomplish that in this lover’s lament.

I initially was seeking Brahms’s Ophelia-Lieder, but could not locate a score online. The five songs last less than four minutes, and have also been recorded by Jessye Norman. They are lovely, but almost too simple — after all, they were intended to be sung unaccompanied and have a folk character.





Hugo Wolf: Auf ein altes Bild (In an old painting)

22 03 2009

und dort, im Walde, wonnesam...

"und dort, im Walde, wonnesam..."

This simple song remains one of my favorites. So simple, so lovely. It moves slowly, at a strolling pace, as if one is walking through an art gallery observing a piece of art. When the viewer realizes that this lovely scene will soon lead to Christ’s crucifixion on the cross, the pain of the realization stings the soul.

The work may have been inspired by Durer’s Madonna and Child, but then again, many artists painted this same scene. In my mind’s eye, I see a conglomerate of works that I came to love growing up at Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum, namely di Credi’s work and the Gossaert’s “Mother and Child with Saint Agnes.”





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.





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





Robert Schumann: Widmung (Dedication)

10 03 2009

Mein guter Geist, mein bessres ich

"Mein guter Geist, mein bess'res ich"

I initially wanted to post the lesser-known Widmung by Robert Franz, a lovely piece in its own right. But the Jessye Norman video of the Schumann song by the same title — the old “chestnut —  captured me so completely, I had to post it. If I can find a recording of the Franz, I’ll post that at a later date.





J.S. Bach: Bist du bei mir (You are with me)

8 03 2009

J.S. Bachs window at the University of the South

J.S. Bach's window at the University of the South

“Bist du bei mir” is from the Anna Magdalena Bach notebook, and it is uncertain whether or not Bach wrote it. In any case, the song is a gem and one of my personal favorites.

I had a long day of singing at the Basilica today and don’t yet have a cache of posts to make up for such an occurrence. My apologies for the late and incomplete posting.





Ludwig van Beethoven: Adelaide, op. 46

4 03 2009

"Deutlich schimmert auf jedem Purpurblättchen: Adelaide"

Beethoven captures a lover’s longing for his muse named Adelaide in this masterpiece typically performed by tenors.





Franz Schubert: Der Leiermann, #24 from Winterreise, D. 911 / Op. 89

2 03 2009
The Hurdy Gurdy Man

The Hurdy Gurdy Man

The haunting final song of Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise tells of a lonely street musician. The final line asks, “Curious old man, should I go with you? Will you play my songs on your box?”

This song was also featured on Paul Schwartz’s album Aria 2 in 1999.