One-sided Conversations

As part of the Leeds Lieder+ Day of Song this coming Sunday I will be coaching two singers in front of an audience in order to give an insight into the work going on during the preparation process towards a recital.

One of the songs to be discussed comes from the four songs of Strauss’ opus 27. The songs are settings of poems by Henckell, Hart and MacKay. These songs were originally composed for voice and piano and Strauss only orchestrated it in 1948, a year prior to his death. With each of the songs two characters are present, but the story is only told from the first person, therefore giving a one-sided view. Throughout the reading of the text and also when hearing Strauss’ settings one is aware of how the speaker addresses one person directly. The dialogue in each song is shown through the speakers words and one senses the presence of the other person or character who is being addressed.

In the first song, Ruhe, meine Seele, the speaker tries to calm down his own heart from its distressed state. The second song, Cäcilie, (to be sung by Katie Connor at the public coaching) the speaker tries to reaffirm the reasons for why the du und ich should be united. 

Cäcilie

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was träumen heißt von brennenden Küssen,
Von Wandern und Ruhen mit der Geliebten,
Aug in Auge,
Und kosend und plaudernd,
Wenn du es wüßtest,
Du neigtest dein Herz !

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was bangen heißt in einsamen Nächten,
Um schauert vom Sturm, da niemand tröstet
Milden Mundes die kampfmüde Seele,
Wenn du es wüßtest,
Du kämest zu mir.

Wenn du es wüßtest,
Was leben heißt, umhaucht von der Gottheit
Weltschaffendem Atem,
Zu schweben empor, lichtgetragen,
Zu seligen Höhn,
Wenn du es wüßtest, wenn du es wüßtest,
Du lebtest mit mir.

Heimliche Aufforderung is the third song and presents the setting of a cocktail or dinner party. The text is a note, slipped into the lover’s hand, inviting him to a secret meeting in the garden away from the noisy guests. The set is finished with the sublime Morgen in which one is allowed to hear the private conversation, halfway through, between two people where the previous songs’ du und ich is transformed into the united wir

Cäcilie was the name of Heinrich Hart’s wife and Strauss set the text on 9 September 1894, the day before his own wedding with the soprano Pauline de Ahna.

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