Gewandhausorchester Leipzig Orchestra
Recorded: Leipzig, 8/1982
Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs), for soprano & orchestra, o.Op. 150 (TrV 296, AV 150)
исполнение E Schwarzkopf
исполнение R Fleming 1
исполнение R Fleming 2
Strauss' Vier letzte Lieder is a set of four songs for soprano and orchestra, composed between 1946 and 1948. The texts for the songs are "Im Abendrot" by Joseph von Eichendorff, followed by three texts by Hermann Hesse, "Fruhling," "Beim Schlafengehen," and "September." For many, these songs are regarded as the pinnacle of Strauss' output as a composer of lieder. For the most part, Strauss had composed his earlier lieder with piano accompaniment and refrained from writing orchestral songs, like those Gustav Mahler composed earlier in the century. In terms of style, the music itself continues in the idiom that Strauss used for his later operas, especially Capriccio. The melodies are long and sinuous, with subtle, chromatic harmonies which support nuances in the text. For one, "Im Abendrot," Strauss even quotes from Tod und Verklarung when the narrator of the poem expresses intimations of death. In all the settings of the Vier letzte Lieder, Strauss composed subtle music. As to the texts themselves, they deal with various subjects which interested Strauss at the time and do not necessarily have a program or single idea. If anything, they reflect poetry which attracted him strongly and inspired him to compose. The Eichendorff poem has personal connotations for Strauss, with its reflection upon death, as a couple gazes at a sunset. The remaining settings of Hesse have a similar sentiment, and suggest overtly the reflection of a composer upon his life. Strauss considered setting more of Hesse's poetry, and thus, with the possibility of more songs to be included, this set of lieder remained unperformed at the composer's death. As to the title, they were named Vier letzte Lieder after Strauss' death and were premiered posthumously by Wilhelm Furtwangler and Kirstin Flagstad in 1950.
- James Zychowicz (All Music Guide)
Cacilie ("Wenn du es wusstest"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 27/2 (TrV 170/2)
The marriage of Richard Strauss and Pauline de Ahna has gone down in musical history as a model example of the attraction of opposites. Strauss, who described himself as "phlegmatic," was on the surface an unlikely match for the high-strung soprano de Ahna, whose temper was well known in late nineteenth-century German musical circles. Strauss composed Cacilie in Weimar on September 9, 1894, the day before his wedding, as a wedding present for his bride-to-be; the song thus stands today as something of a monument to their long-lived union. Cacilie would become a mainstay in the repertoire of the couple's Lieder recitals in Europe and the United States. Strauss' song is also a fitting interpretation of Heinrich Hart's poem, which was the poet's declaration of love to his wife, Cacilie. Around the same time as the composition of Cacilie, Strauss, then employed as the Kapellmeister at the court of the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, was also strengthening his ties with Cosima Wagner and the Wagnerian circle in Bayreuth. The year 1894 also saw the premiere of Strauss' first opera Guntram and his appointment as Kapellmeister at the Munich court. Cacilie was orchestrated in 1897.
Strauss' through-composed musical setting of Heinrich Hart's poem at once denies the poem's strophic construction and confirms the passion of its content. The voice-and-piano version is in the key of E major; Strauss transposed the song to E flat major when he orchestrated it in 1897, a decision that permits the heroic associations of this key to enrich the meaning of Hart's bold profession of love. The music of the first text strophe offers an adventuresome major-mode context for the passionate images of the text: ardent kisses, caresses, whispers. Strauss avoids congruity between poetic lines and musical phrases, a free approach to the text that yields an outpouring of emotional expression. The shift to minor mode at the beginning of the second text strophe and the harmonic volatility throughout reflect a change in the poetic imagery to the darker side of love: worry, lonely nights, isolation, despair. Likewise, the sunny return to the major mode at the end of the second text strophe predicts the expansion of the imagery of third strophe into ideal realms, to which one travels in a blaze of light to the heights of the blessed creation. The ascending scalar figures in the piano postlude confirm this upward sweep.
- Jennifer Hambrick
Morgen ("Und morgen wird die Sonne wieder scheinen"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 27/4 (TrV 170/4)
One of Richard Strauss' best known songs, this work, a celebration of love, is inspired by the composer's feelings toward his wife, Pauline. The text is "Morgen," a poem by the German poet (of Scottish extraction), John Henry Morgan (1864-1933). The poem, which blends tranquil, reassuring images of nature with deep confidence in love, inspired a natural, flowing melody of extraordinary beauty. While the atmosphere of tranquillity remains fundamentally undisturbed, the smoothly ascending movement of the melody suggests feelings of deep, boundless joy, yearning to express its immensity. Providing discreet harmonic accompaniment and gentle melodic support, the piano part beautifully complements the solo. While Strauss is better known for his symphonic and operatic works, this work, composed in 1893-1894, identifies him as one of the great masters of the German Lied.
Wiegenlied ("Traume, traume, du mein susses Leben"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 41/1 (TrV 195/1)
Composed in Marquartstein on August 22, 1899, and dedicated to Mme. Marie Rosch (nee Ritter) "in friendly admiration," this gentle lullaby is interesting for the way that Strauss maintains a compelling balance between an intimate song style and a concert aria.
The song's conventional harmonies perfectly follow the subtly shifting moods of Richard Dehmel's poem. The opening is marked sanft bewegt (with gentle motion) and the piano accompaniment's thirty-second-note harp-like arpeggios are played sehr leicht und fluchtig (very light and fleeting) at a very subdued pianississimo dynamic level. The vocalist's melodic line moves along in a hushed, considerably slower pace, without elaboration, only simple passing tones, and completely in B flat major: "Dream, my sweet life, of heaven that brings forth flowers."
The middle section modulates to the subdominant key (E flat major) with a modulation to the minor (G seventh to C minor) on the words "Blossoms quiver, shaken by the song...," and then peacefully returns to the home key on the words "...that your mother sings." The melody continues to move in considerably longer notes, in the augmentation style, which the composer employs in the wind and brass choir parts in several of his orchestral compositions.
The second verse initially sounds like a recapitulation of the first "Dream, dream...," but immediately switches to the parallel minor key (B flat minor) as the mood becomes more serious on the words "my worries sprouted, since the days the flowers bloomed, since that bright morning...." And, as in the previous verse, there is a modulation back to the tonic key when the thoughts become hopeful: "...your care has opened up the world to me."
The third verse reiterates the first and second. This time the child is asked to "Dream, dream, my love, of the silent, holy night." The harmonies soon start to modulate in a subtle manner to a considerably removed key by a series of false anticipations that trick the ear with very gentle enharmonic movement to unanticipated tonal centers (B flat major, D major, A major, E minor sixth, B minor). The modulations crescendo toward two sustained peaks on the words "Welt" (world) on a G major chord and "Himmel" (heaven) on a full C major chord at the end of the verse: "When the bloom of his love made the world like heaven for me." This last line is repeated once more as the music returns to the tonality and mood of the opening, and the piece concludes on whispering arpeggios that ascend to the highest range on the piano.
- "Blue" Gene Tyranny
Meinem Kinde ("Du schlafst und sachte neig' ich mich"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 37/3 (TrV 187/3)
After the birth of his son Franz on April 12, 1897, Strauss the proud papa set Gustav Falke's tenderly sentimental little poem "Meinem Kinde" (My Child), Op. 37/3, as an innocent strophic song. With its gently turning melody above sweet countermelodies and warm chords in the piano accompaniment and its wide-eyed and heartfelt melody for the voice, Meinem Kind is as guileless and beautiful as any song Strauss ever composed. Although often sung by a soprano, the song is clearly a hymn to paternal love.
- James Leonard
Zueignung ("Ja, du weisst es, teur Seele"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 10/1 (TrV 141/1)
Richard Strauss composed his Opus 10 songs in 1882 - 83, at the age of 18 and while still living in his native town of Munich. Although Strauss had previously composed no fewer than 39 songs for voice and piano, the eight songs of Opus 10 are the first songs about which Strauss was confident enough to attribute an opus number. His Acht Gedichte aus "Letzte Blatter" (Hermann von Gilm) thus mark the beginning of Strauss' life-long activity in the genre of the German Lied. In 1940, Strauss orchestrated Zueignung for the soprano Viorica Ursuleac, whom he wished to provide a showcase suitable for her to take on solo concert tours.
Strauss' musical setting of Gilm's poem faithfully reflects the poem's versification scheme and strophic disposition. Strauss gives each of the four verses in a strophe its own two-measure musical phrase and acknowledges the commas at the end of the first three lines by cadencing only after the refrain "Habe Dank," which returns at the end of each strophe. The musical setting of the second text strophe begins identically to that of the first, but modulates in the third verse to the closely related key of F major. Strauss moves through the key of D minor and back to the tonic key of C major in a brief piano interlude before the third strophe. The song melody recurs identically for the first two verses of the third and final strophe before the soprano, doubled in the right hand of the piano, swells up majestically to the registral climax on A with the only repeated word in the song, "heilig" (blessed), at the beginning of the third line. The transparent harmonic motion and contrapuntal texture of the piano accompaniment provide a bed of support for the solo soprano voice and participate in the dramatic pacing. Eighth-note triplet arpeggios roll gently forward throughout the song above the harmonic foundation of the slowly-moving bass. A third line in the accompaniment texture surfaces occasionally in the right hand to double or provide a countermelody to the song tune. The piano part expands in range during the third strophe, both hands enriching the texture by filling in the open intervals of the previous two strophes with chord tones and emphasizing the climax with emphatic triplets. Both voice and piano float blissfully upwards in the final two measures and the song gently drifts away.
- Jennifer Hambrick