Vincent d’Indy: Lied maritime (Maritime song)

27 01 2010

"ghosts" by Naama, used under Creative Commons

It’s the beginning of a new semester, which means I’ve been busy assigning repertoire to my students. I have come across this piece in several anthologies and online, and I have been tempted to assign it, but for lack of familiarity, I’ve avoided it. Additionally, I am so fond of Vincent d’Indy’s orchestral music that I didn’t believe a song this simple could stand up to those works I so enjoyed programming when I worked in classical radio. I was wrong to have doubted d’Indy, as this song is lovely!

The song is in two halves. The first half is calm and rocking, just like the calm sea; the lover looks at the closed eyes of the beloved and feels calm, like the sea. The second half is much more frantic, with rising and falling arpeggios in the piano, and with unexpected pitches and chords in both the voice and piano. The stormy seas are echoed in the troubled heart after looking at the “traitorous eyes” of the beloved.

Any time I get to feature Counter-tenor extraordinaire Philippe Jaroussky, I’m happy. This performance lacks some of the warmth and vocal agility that I tend to associate with him, but it’s still quite striking.

No translation on recmusic.org (though one is provided in the front of the commonly available “40 French Songs, Vol. II” by International). No videos on YouTube. I think this needs to be remedied, tout de suite!

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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.





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.