Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mozart - Two Lieder For Soprano And Piano

The lieder of  Mozart, Haydn, and other composers of the 18th and early 19th centuries were generally strophic songs that were not considered serious compositions, but were meant for the domestic consumption of amateur singers and musicians. That doesn't mean that there weren't fine examples of early German lieder. Beethoven especially set the stage for the development of the German art song as practiced by Schubert. And an early composer such as Mozart was capable of writing fine music in any form he chose, including lieder.

Song of Separation  (Das Lied der TrennungK 519
The Song of Separation was written to a poem by Klamer Eberhard Karl Schmidt, a lawyer and minor poet. The song was written in 1787, right around the same time as the composition of the opera Don Giovanni.  The music of this song is in C minor, and a work in a minor key is usually an indication of a more serious work by Mozart. The words deal with the familiar lost love subject, but Mozart gives an emotional and passionate setting to the words. Most of the song is written in the usual strophic form but there is a section in the song that is through-composed, after which the song returns to the strophic melody of the beginning.

God's angels weep
when lovers part.
O maiden,
how will I be able to live without you?
A stranger to all joys,
henceforth I shall live to suffer.
And you? And you?
Perhaps Louisa will forget me for ever!
Perhaps she will forget me for ever!

I cannot forget her;
everywhere I am plagued by her hands
Klamer Eberhard Karl Schmidt
pressing mine lovingly.
I tremble to take hold of her
and find myself abandoned.
And you? And you?
Perhaps Louisa will forget me for ever!
Perhaps she will forget me for ever!

I cannot forget her;
my heart, wounded by her,
seems to sigh and ask me:
"O friend, remember me!"
Oh I will remember you
until I am lowered into my grave.
And you? And you?
Perhaps Louisa will forget me for ever!
Perhaps she will forget me for ever!

Oblivion steals in hours
what love takes years to confer.
As a hand can turn,
so hearts may change.
The new attentions of others
have banished my image from her mind.
O God! Perhaps Louisa will forget me for ever!
Ah, think of our parting!
May this tearless silence,
may this rising and falling
of the heart oppress you
like a powerful spectre,
should you ever love someone else.
If you should ever forget me,
for get God and yourself.

Ah, think of our parting!
Let this memorial,
imprinted on my lips by our kisses,
judge both you and me!
With this reminder on my lips
I shall come to the witching hour
and present myself with a warning,
if Louisa should forget me,
if she should forget me.

To Chloë  K 524
The style and feeling of this lied is more in keeping with a love song, but Mozart does put his own special feeling into the text with his music. The poem is by Johann Georg Jacobi, a poet whose works were looked down upon by the intellectuals of the time. He was appointed to the University of Freiburg as a professor of letters in 1784, and when he died in 1814 his funeral was attended by many dignataries, citizens and students.

When love shines out
from your bright blue eyes
Johann Georg Jacobi
I gaze into them
and my heart pounds and glows.

I hold you close to me
and kiss your warm red cheeks.
Sweet girl, I hold you
trembling in my arms.

Dear girl, dear girl,
I hold you close to me,
and not until the last moment
can death separate us.

A dark cloud casts a shadow
over my enchanted gaze
and I sit next to you,
exhausted but contented.

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