Schubert, Brahms, Wolf, and Strauss 

 

Jess Dandy, contralto

Martin Roscoe, piano 

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

 

Liebesbotschaft  D957/1 text: Ludwig Rellstab (from Schwanengesang) 

Die Forelle D550 text: Christian Schubart 

Auf der Donau D553 text: Johann Mayrhofer

Die junge Nonne D828 text: Jacob Nikolaus Craigher de Jachelutta

Du bist die Ruh D776 text: Friedrich Rückert

Nachtstück D672 text: Johann Mayrhofer

Auflösung D807 text: Johann Mayrhofer

Liebesbotschaft – A Love Message 

Whispering brooklet, sparkling silver, will you hurry merrily to the beloved?  Ah, darling brooklet, be my messenger; bring her greetings from afar. All her flowers tended in the garden, which she wears lovingly about her breast, and her roses in crimson ember – brooklet, refresh them with a cooling flood.  Should she succumb to dreams on the bank thinking of me, hanging her little head, look upon my sweet one and comfort her – her beloved shall soon return. As the sun sets with a red glow, rock my darling to sleep, whisper her into sweet rest, whisper dreams of love to her. 

 

Die Forelle – The Trout 

In a bright brooklet, in merry haste the capricious trout shot out like an arrow. I was standing on the bank and watched the happy little fish swimming in the clear brooklet.  A fisherman was standing on the bank with his rod and – in cold blood – watched how the little fish moved.  As long as the water remains clear, I thought, he won’t catch the trout. But at last the thief lost patience.  Cunningly he clouded the brooklet, and before I could even think it, his rod quivered, and on it the little fish struggling.  My blood boiled as I looked upon the cheated creature. 

 

Auf der Donau – On The Danube 

On the mirror of the waves the boat swims, old castles soar heavenward, pine forests stir like spirits, and our hearts grow faint within our breasts.  For the works of man all perish: where is the tower, the gate, the rampart, where are the strong themselves armed in bronze, who stormed forth in war and chase?  Mournful brushwood grows rampant, while the power of pious mirth fades.  In our little boat we grow afraid – waves, like time, threaten demise. 

 

Die junge Nonne – The young nun 

How the raging storm roars through the treetops! The rafters rattle, the house shudders!  The thunder rolls, the lightning flashes, and the night is as dark as the grave.  So be it, not long ago a storm still raged in me.  My life roared like the storm now, my limbs trembled like the house, love flashed like the lightning, and my heart was as dark as the grave.  Rage now, wild, mighty storm; in my heart is peace, in my heart is calm. The loving bride awaits the bridegroom, purified in the testing flames, betrothed to eternal love.  I wait, my Saviour, with longing gaze! Come, heavenly bridegroom, take your bride.  Free the soul from earthly bonds. Listen, the bell sounds peacefully from the tower! Its sweet pealing invites me all-powerfully to eternal heights.

Alleluia!

 

Du bist die Ruh – You are repose 

You are repose and gentle peace. You are longing and what stills it.  Full of joy and grief I consecrate to you my eyes and my heart as a dwelling place.  Come in to me and softly close the gate behind you.  Drive all other grief from my breast.  Let my heart be full of your joy.  The temple of my eyes is lit by your radiance alone:  O, fill it wholly!

 

Nachtstück – Nocturne 

When the mists spread over the mountains, and the moon battles with the clouds, the old man takes his harp, and walks towards the wood, quietly singing: ‘Holy night, soon it will be done. Soon I shall sleep the long sleep which will free me from all grief.’ Then the green trees rustle: ‘Sleep sweetly, good old man’; and the swaying grasses whisper: ‘We shall cover his resting place.’ And many a sweet bird calls: ‘Let him rest in his grassy grave!’  The old man listens, the old man is silent. Death has inclined towards him. 

 

Auflösung – Dissolution 

Hide yourself, sun, for the fires of rapture burn through my whole being.  Be silent, sounds; spring beauty, flee, and let me be alone!  From every recess of my soul gentle powers well up and envelop me with celestial song.  Dissolve, world, and never more disturb the sweet ethereal choirs.

 

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

 

Vier ernste Gesänge op. 121 (1896)

Text: Luther Bible 

 

  1. Denn es gehet dem Menschen                                           

  2. Ich wandte mich                                                               

  3. O Tod, wie bitter bist du                                                 

  4. Wenn ich mit Menschen– und mit Engelzungen redete     

Denn es gehet dem Menschen – For that which befalleth the sons of men 

For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast; for all is vanity.  All go unto one place; all are of dust, and all turn to dust again.  Who knoweth the spirit of man [...] goeth upward and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his portion.  For who shall bring him to see what shall happen after him?

 

Ich wandte mich – So I returned 

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun; and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive.  Yea, better is he than both they, which hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun.

 

O Tod, wie bitter bist du – O death, how bitter you are

O death, how bitter is the remembrance of thee to a man that liveth at rest in his possessions,unto the man that hath nothing to vex him, and that hath prosperity in all things; yea, unto him that is yet able to receive meat!  O death, acceptable is thy sentence unto the needy and unto him whose strength faileth, that is now in the last age, and is vexed with all things, and to him that despaireth, and hath lost patience!

 

Wenn ich mit Menschen– und mit Engelzungen redete – Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels

 

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, it profiteth me nothing...For now we see through glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Interval 

 

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)

 

from Mörike-Lieder

Text: Eduard Mörike

 

Nixe Binsefuss (45)                              

Die Geister am Mummelsee (47)         

Auf ein altes Bild (23)                          

An die Geliebte (32)                           

Der Knabe und das Immlein (2)          

Der Feuerreiter (44)                             

Er ist’s (6)          

 

Nixe Binsefuss – The water-sprite Reedfoot 

The water spirit’s little daughter dances on the ice in the full moon, singing and laughing without fear past the fisherman's house. “I am the maiden Reedfoot, and I must look after my fish; my fish are in this casket, having a cold Lent; my casket is made of Bohemian glass, and I count them whenever I can.  Not so, Matt? Not so, foolish old fisherman, you cannot understand it's winter? If you come near me with your nets, I’ll tear them all to shreds!  But your little girl is good and devout, and her sweetheart’s an honest huntsman.  That’s why I’ll hang a wedding bouquet, a wreath of rushes outside her house, and a pike of solid silver, from King Arthur’s time, the masterwork of a dwarf goldsmith, which brings its owner the best of luck: each year it sheds its scales, worth five hundred groshen in cash.  Farewell, child! Farewell for today! The cock in the village cried morning.”

 

Die Geister am Mummelsee – Ghosts on Mummelsee 

What’s this winding down the mountain at midnight with torches and such splendour? Can they be going to a ball or banquet? Their singing sounds so joyful.  Oh no!  Then tell me what it can be?  What you see is a funeral procession, and what you hear are laments.  They are mourning the king, the sorcerer, they are bearing him back down again.  Oh mercy!  They must be the ghosts of the lake! They’re gliding down to the Mummel valley – already they’ve alighted on the lake – they neither move nor even wet their feet – they whirr their wings while murmuring prayers – oh look, there by the coffin the glistening woman! The lake now opens its mirror-green doors; Look out, already they’re diving down!  A living, wavering staircase rises, and down in the depths they’re droning songs.  Can you hear? They’re singing him to rest below.  How sweetly the waters burn and glow!  Their fire flickers green as they dance; the mists are swirling around the shore, the lake vanishes into the sea – hush now! Will nothing ever move there again? A swirl in the middle – O heavens! ah help! The ghosts – they’re coming again! There’s a roar in the reeds and a wind in the rushes; Quick now, run, take flight! Away!  They’ve caught my scent, they’re catching me!

 

Auf ein altes Bild – On an old painting 

In the summer haze of a green landscape, by cool water, rushes and reeds, see how the Child, born without sin, plays freely on the Virgin’s lap!  And ah! growing blissfully there in the wood,

Already the tree of the cross is turning green!

 

An die Geliebte – To the beloved 

When I, deeply calmed at beholding you, take silent delight in your sacred worth, then I truly hear the gentle breathing of that angel concealed within you.  And amazed, a questioning smile rises to my lips: does not a dream deceive me, now that in you, to my eternal joy, my boldest, my only wish is being fulfilled?  My soul then plunges from depth to depth, from the dark distances of Godhead I hear the springs of fate ripple in melody.  Dazed I raise my eyes to heaven – where all the stars are smiling; I kneel to listen to their song of light.

 

Der Knabe und Das Immlein – The Boy and the Bee 

On the hill-top vineyard there stands a hut so timidly, it has neither door nor window and feels time dragging by.  And when the day’s so sultry, and every little bird is silent, a solitary bee buzzes round the sunflower.  My sweetheart has a garden with a pretty beehive in it: is that where you’ve flown from? Did she send you to me?  ‘Oh no, you handsome boy, no one bade me bear messages; this child knows nothing of love, has scarcely even noticed you.  What can girls know when hardly out of school!  Your beloved sweetheart is still her mother’s child.  I bring her wax and honey; farewell! – I’ve gathered a whole pound; how your beloved will laugh!  Her mouth’s already watering.’  Ah, if only you would tell her, I know of something much sweeter: there’s nothing lovelier on earth than when one hugs and kisses!

 

Der Feuerreiter – Fire-rider

 

See, at the window there, his red cap again? Something must be wrong, for he’s pacing to and fro.  And all of a sudden, what a throng at the bridge, heading for the fields!  Listen to the fire-bell shrilling: behind the hill, behind the hill the mill’s on fire!  Look, there he gallops frenziedly through the gate, the fire-rider, straddling his skinny mount like a fireman’s ladder!  Across the fields! Through thick smoke and heat he rides and has reached his goal!  The distant bell peals on and on: behind the hill, behind the hill the mill’s on fire!  You who have often smelt a fire from many miles away, and blasphemously conjured the blaze with a fragment of the True Cross – look out! there, grinning at you from the rafters, is the Devil amid the flames of hell.  God have mercy on your soul!  Behind the hill, behind the hill he’s raging in the mill!  In less than an hour the mill collapsed in rubble; but from that hour the bold rider was never seen again.  Thronging crowds and carriages turn back home from all the horror; and the bell stops ringing too: behind the hill, behind the hill a fire! – some time after a miller found a skeleton, complete with cap, upright against the cellar wall, mounted on the fleshless mare: fire-rider, how coldly you ride in your grave! Hush! Now it flakes into ash.  Rest in peace, rest in peace down there in the mill!

 

Er ist's – Spring is here 

Spring sends its blue banner fluttering on the breeze again; sweet, well-remembered scents drift propitiously across the land.  Violets dream already, will soon begin to bloom. – Listen, the soft sound of a distant harp!  Spring, that must be you!  It’s you I’ve heard!

 

Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

 

Wiegenlied                                                       Op. 41/1      Richard Dehmel

Muttertändelei                                                   Op. 43/2       Gottfried August Bürger                      

 

Vier Lieder, Op. 27

 

  1. Ruhe, meine Seele                                     Karl Friedrich Henckell

  2. Cäcilie                                                     Heinrich Hart

  3. Heimliche Aufforderung                              John Henry Mackay

  4. Morgen!                                                   John Henry Mackay

 

Wiegenlied – Cradle song 

Dream, dream, my sweet, my life, of heaven that brings the flowers; blossoms shimmer there, they live from the song your mother sings.  Dream, dream, bud born of my anxiety, of the day the flower unfolded; of that morning bright with blossom, when your soul opened to the world.

Dream, dream, blossom of my love, of the silent, of the sacred night, when the flower of his love

made this world my heaven.

 

Muttertändelei – Mother-talk 

Just look at my pretty child!  With his golden tassels of hair, blue eyes, rosy cheeks!  Well folks, do you have such a child? – no, folks, you don’t!  

Just look at my sweet child!  Fatter than a fat snail, sweeter than a sugar roll! Well folks, do you have such a child? – no, folks, you don’t!

Just look at my lovely child!  Not too moody, not too choosy, always friendly, always happy!  Well folks, do you have such a child? – no, folks, you don’t!

Just look at my gentle child!  No wicked shrew would love her mother so.

Well folks, do you want such a child? – oh! you’ll certainly not get mine!  Let a merchant come along!  One hundred thousand thalers let him pay, all the gold on earth!  Oh! he certainly won’t get mine!  Let him buy one somewhere else!

 

Ruhe, meine Seele – Rest, my soul! 

Not even a soft breeze stirs, in gentle sleep the wood rests; through the leaves’ dark veil bright sunshine steals. Rest, rest, my soul, your storms were wild, you raged and you quivered, like the breakers, when they surge!  These times are violent, cause heart and mind distress— Rest, rest, my soul, and forget what threatens you!

 

Cäcilie – Cecily 

If you knew what it is to dream of burning kisses, of walking and resting with one’s love, gazing at each other and caressing and talking – if you knew, your heart would turn to me.  If you knew what it is to worry on lonely nights in the frightening storm, with no soft voice to comfort the struggle-weary soul – if you knew, you would come to me.  If you knew what it is to live enveloped in God’s world-creating breath, to soar upwards, borne on light to blessed heights – if you knew, you would live with me.

 

Heimliche Aufforderung – Secret invitation 

Come, raise to your lips the sparkling goblet, and drink at this joyful feast your heart to health.  And when you raise it, give me a secret sign, then I shall smile, and drink as quietly as you ...

And quietly like me, look around at the hordes of drunken gossips—do not despise them too much.  No, raise the glittering goblet, filled with wine, and let them be happy at the noisy feast.  But once you have savoured the meal, quenched your thirst, leave the loud company of happy revellers, and come out into the garden to the rose-bush, – there I shall wait for you as I’ve always done.  And I shall sink on your breast, before you could hope, and drink your kisses, as often before, and twine in your hair the glorious rose –

Ah! come, O wondrous, longed-for night!

 

Morgen! – Tomorrow! 

And tomorrow the sun will shine again and on the path that I shall take, it will unite us, happy ones, again, amid this same sun-breathing earth ... and to the shore, broad, blue-waved, we shall quietly and slowly descend, speechless we shall gaze into each other’s eyes, and the speechless silence of bliss shall fall on us ...