Richard Strauss concert – Four Last Songs & An Alpine Symphony

A beautiful Richard Strauss concert: Four Last Songs & An Alpine Symphony. Soprano: Anja Harteros. Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Christian Thielemann.

The opening song is “Ernster Gesang” by the German composer Wolfgang Rihm (born 13 March 1952 in Karlsruhe). He is musical director of the Institute of New Music and Media at the University of Music Karlsruhe and has been composer in residence at the Lucerne Festival and the Salzburg Festival.

Four Last Songs

The Four Last Songs (German: Vier letzte Lieder), Op. posth., TrV 296, AV 150, for soprano and orchestra are, with the exception of the song “Malven” (Mallows) composed later the same year, the final completed works of Richard Strauss, composed in 1948 when the composer was 84. The songs are “Frühling” (Spring), “September”, “Beim Schlafengehen” (When Falling Asleep) and “Im Abendrot” (At Sunset). The title “Four Last Songs” was provided posthumously by Strauss’s friend Ernst Roth, who published the four songs as a single unit after Strauss’s death.

Lyrics

1. “Frühling” (“Spring”)

Text: Hermann Hesse
Composed: July 20, 1948

German

In dämmrigen Grüften
träumte ich lang
von deinen Bäumen und blauen Lüften,
Von deinem Duft und Vogelsang.

Nun liegst du erschlossen
In Gleiss und Zier
von Licht übergossen
wie ein Wunder vor mir.

Du kennst mich wieder,
du lockst mich zart,
es zittert durch all meine Glieder
deine selige Gegenwart!

English translation

In shadowy crypts
I dreamt long
of your trees and blue skies,
of your fragrance and birdsong.

Now you appear
in all your finery,
drenched in light
like a miracle before me.

You recognize me,
you entice me tenderly.
All my limbs tremble at
your blessed presence!

2. “September”

Text: Hermann Hesse
Composed: September 20, 1948

German

Der Garten trauert,
kühl sinkt in die Blumen der Regen.
Der Sommer schauert
still seinem Ende entgegen.

Golden tropft Blatt um Blatt
nieder vom hohen Akazienbaum.
Sommer lächelt erstaunt und matt
In den sterbenden Gartentraum.

Lange noch bei den Rosen
bleibt er stehn, sehnt sich nach Ruh.
Langsam tut er
die müdgeword’nen Augen zu.

English translation

The garden is in mourning.
Cool rain seeps into the flowers.
Summertime shudders,
quietly awaiting his end.

Golden leaf after leaf falls
from the tall acacia tree.
Summer smiles, astonished and feeble,
at his dying dream of a garden.

For just a while he tarries
beside the roses, yearning for repose.
Slowly he closes
his weary eyes.

3. “Beim Schlafengehen” (“Going to sleep”)

Text: Hermann Hesse
Composed: August 4, 1948

German

Nun der Tag mich müd gemacht,
soll mein sehnliches Verlangen
freundlich die gestirnte Nacht
wie ein müdes Kind empfangen.

Hände, lasst von allem Tun
Stirn, vergiss du alles Denken,
Alle meine Sinne nun
wollen sich in Schlummer senken.

Und die Seele unbewacht
will in freien Flügen schweben,
um im Zauberkreis der Nacht
tief und tausendfach zu leben.

English translation

Now that I am wearied of the day,
my ardent desire shall happily receive
the starry night
like a sleepy child.

Hands, stop all your work.
Brow, forget all your thinking.
All my senses now
yearn to sink into slumber.

And my unfettered soul
wishes to soar up freely
into night’s magic sphere
to live there deeply and thousandfold.

4. “Im Abendrot” (“At sunset”)

Text: Joseph von Eichendorff
Composed: Composed: May 6, 1948

German

Wir sind durch Not und Freude
gegangen Hand in Hand;
vom Wandern ruhen wir
nun überm stillen Land.

Rings sich die Täler neigen,
es dunkelt schon die Luft.
Zwei Lerchen nur noch steigen
nachträumend in den Duft.

Tritt her und lass sie schwirren,
bald ist es Schlafenszeit.
Dass wir uns nicht verirren
in dieser Einsamkeit.

O weiter, stiller Friede!
So tief im Abendrot.
Wie sind wir wandermüde–
Ist dies etwa der Tod?

English translation

We have through sorrow and joy
gone hand in hand;
From our wanderings, let’s now rest
in this quiet land.

Around us, the valleys bow
as the sun goes down.
Two larks soar upwards
dreamily into the light air.

Come close, and let them fly.
Soon it will be time for sleep.
Let’s not lose our way
in this solitude.

O vast, tranquil peace,
so deep in the evening’s glow!
How weary we are of wandering—
Is this perhaps death?

An Alpine Symphony

An Alpine Symphony (Eine Alpensinfonie), Op. 64, is a tone poem written by German composer Richard Strauss in 1915. Though labelled as a symphony by the composer, this piece forgoes the conventions of the traditional multi-movement symphony and consists of twenty-two continuous sections of music.[1] The story of An Alpine Symphony depicts the experiences of eleven hours (from twilight just before dawn to the following nightfall) spent climbing an Alpine mountain. An Alpine Symphony is one of Strauss’s largest non-operatic works in terms of performing forces: the score calls for about 125 players in total.

A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral or concert band music, usually in a single continuous section (a movement) that illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, short story, novel, painting, landscape, or other (non-musical) source. Hungarian composer Franz Liszt first applied the term to his 13 works in this vein. In its aesthetic objectives, the symphonic poem is in some ways related to opera. Whilst it does not use a sung text, it seeks, like opera, a union of music and drama.

Anja Harteros (born 23 July 1972) is a German operatic soprano. In 1999, she became the first German to win the Cardiff Singer of the World competition

Sources

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