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.

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Franz Schubert and Carl Loewe: Erlkönig (The Erl King)

5 05 2009
Who rides so late through night and wind...

"Who rides so late through night and wind..."

One of the most iconic of German Lieder is Schubert’s setting of Goethe’s Erlkönig. It is a story of a sick child whose father carries him home by horseback. The child is terrified by the “Erl King,” who threatens to take him by will or by force. The father doesn’t believe the child, thinking the child is hallucinating.

Unfortunately, this song is far too demanding for many pianists with its rapidly repeated triplets in the right hand, and it requires a singer with some serious dramatic chops to do it justice. Carl Loewe’s setting of the same text is also extremely effective and a masterpiece in its own right. Additionally, it is a great alternative to the Schubert.





Giuseppe Martucci: Cantava il ruscello (The little brook sang)

30 04 2009
O... la pace fedel de la foresta!

O... la pace fedel de la foresta!

For me, Martucci’s song cycle La Canzone dei Ricordi (The Song of Memories) was a wonderful discovery. These beautifully crafted songs call to mind the music of Puccini, and it surprises me that they are not performed more often. The second song, presented here, with its undulating harmonies in the accompaniment suggest not only rushing water the title might suggest, but also the spring breezes, and even the underlying emotional excitement that comes with the arrival of spring.

New translation behind cut:

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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.