Richard Strauss: Die Nacht (The Night)

5 01 2010

Cologne Dome at Night

Cologne Dome at Night, by h0m3rcl3s (used under Creative Commons)

Richard Strauss is known for his expansive and expressive writing, and vocal lines that require legato for days. Die Nacht is no exception, despite being one of Strauss’s first songs, written in 1885. The poem expresses the fear that just as night steals the color from everything that is lovely, “taking from the Cathedral Dome its gold,” it will steal the beloved from the lover. Strauss’s song picks up the sensual notes of the poem with a tenderness and sweetness tinged with sadness.





Roger Quilter: Now sleeps the crimson petal

30 03 2009

aa

"The fire-fly wakens; waken thou with me"

There is a tenderness to this song which is quite fetching. The piano is light and delicate, gentle. The voice must also maintain a certain tender quality throughout. And yet, the love the singer feels is powerful, palpable, sensuous.





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!