Hermann Bemberg: Chant Hindou (Hindu Song)

3 04 2009
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The Temple of Brahma in Pushkar

The West has always had a fascination with the East, and in the Romantic period,  “Orientalism” in the arts was a particularly strong trend. Hermann Bemberg’s Chant Hindou was quite popular as a result, though the music itself shows little to no eastern influence. Today, Bemberg would be called a one-hit wonder, Chant Hindou being his hit song.

A note on this recording: There are no indications in the music that the interludes in this piece should move along at a quicker pace than the rest of the music as they do here. I presume this is due to the 78 RPM disc on which it was recorded — in order not to go beyond the disc’s three-minute length, tempi were often incredibly quick, particularly in piano interludes.

There is no translation at recmusic, so I have submitted one. It appears below:

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Francesco Paolo Tosti: Ideale (The Ideal)

26 03 2009
Come back, dear ideal one, to smile on me again for a moment

"Come back, dear ideal, to smile on me again"

Francesco Paolo Tosti was something of an in-between composer. His works lived between the world of the classical and the popular, causing critics to judge his works harshly, precisely because of his songs’ popular appeal. Today, that distinction has faded, and all one hears is Tosti’s ability to write glorious melodies and set texts beautifully.

This piece is one of the tenor “national anthems” with so many recordings that it is difficult to make a selection. I hesitate to include one particular recording as the model, but feel it is worth noting; Alessandro Moreschi is the only male castrato soprano to have made recordings, and if you’ve never heard him– well, judge for yourself.





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!





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.