VISIT WESTCORKMUSIC.IE

LATEST ADDITION TO THE ARCHIVE

Six Nikolaus Lenau Poems and Requiem Op.90

Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)

Composer
Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)
Composition Year
1850
Work Movements
1. Lied eines Schmiedes
2. Meine Rose
3. Kommen und Scheiden
4. Die Sennin
5. Einsamkeit
6. Der schwere Abend
7. Requiem
Artists
Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

There are many stories of life imitating art but this cycle of songs has a particularly unfortunate ending. When Schumann returned in early July from the not very successful Leipzig premiere of his opera Genoveva, he heard that the poet Nikolaus Lenau had died. So he set six of his poems and added a Requiem to mourn the poet. However it turned out Lenau, who had been locked up in an asylum for 6 years, was still alive. Nonetheless the music was written and must perforce be performed, then on the very day, news came that the poet had just died, the kind of melancholic coincidence that would upset Schumann’s ultra-sensitive disposition. After this Schumann went out of his way to ensure the publication of the songs was treated with especial care so it could be a suitable monument to the poet.

 

This haunting cycle that begins so simply with a blacksmith’s song culminates in Héloïse’s Lament on the death of Abelard. The anonymous translation of the famous Latin text is not well done but its sentiment is undeniably sincere and Schumann’s music reflects this. As Graham Johnson points out in his incomparable notes, Schumann may have been mourning the golden days of the great love of Robert and Clara just as Héloïse was mourning the memory of her tragic love for Abelard, the great lover and philosopher who ended his days stripped of his manhood and vilified by the church.

 

The opening forging song is from Lenau’s version of Faust. The piano hammers away smithy style and the singer is given a simple and catchy tune. Meine Rose is the best-known song in this cycle with its beautiful, flowing melody exploring the symbolic imagery of the rose and the reviving water drawn from the dunklem, tiefen Bronnen. The miniature Kommen und Scheiden catches to perfection the terrible wrench of parting from a lover. Die Sennin comes from the long tradition of romanticised Alpine songs where the mountain girl minds her herd singing her glorious, bright, echoing song, to be remembered forever by the grauen Felsenzinnen – poet, composer and singer all seeking immortality in their song. Einsamkeit shows Schumann’s genius for creating in three brief minutes an entire world, the deserted lover, the silent wood, the unceasing lament that seeks der Geist der Liebe, a single moment of soaring perfection followed a moment later by the return to hopelessness. The final song, Der schwere Abend, revisits a dark dream of lost and anguished love from Dichterliebe, the final terrible line a fitting prelude to the subject if not the mood of Requiem. For this great setting of Héloïse’s Lament is more a celebration than a mourning, with a great and stirring climax and even, at seligem Verein, a hint of Schumann’s wonderful creation the Davidsbund, the league of David, who forever fight against the philistines.

FULL DETAILS SEARCH FOR MORE

Six Nikolaus Lenau Poems and Requiem Op.90

Composer: Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)
Performance date: Wednesday 4th July 2012
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

Share on Twitter | Share on Facebook
http://archive.westcorkmusic.ie/details/view/cmf/144

Composer Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)
Work Title Six Nikolaus Lenau Poems and Requiem Op.90
Composition Year 1850
Work Movements 1. Lied eines Schmiedes
2. Meine Rose
3. Kommen und Scheiden
4. Die Sennin
5. Einsamkeit
6. Der schwere Abend
7. Requiem
Artist(s) Julius Drake [piano], Ruby Hughes [mezzo-soprano]
Performance Date Wednesday 4th July 2012
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Stars in the Afternoon
Duration 00:17:37
Recording Engineer Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Duo
Instrumentation S-solo, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

There are many stories of life imitating art but this cycle of songs has a particularly unfortunate ending. When Schumann returned in early July from the not very successful Leipzig premiere of his opera Genoveva, he heard that the poet Nikolaus Lenau had died. So he set six of his poems and added a Requiem to mourn the poet. However it turned out Lenau, who had been locked up in an asylum for 6 years, was still alive. Nonetheless the music was written and must perforce be performed, then on the very day, news came that the poet had just died, the kind of melancholic coincidence that would upset Schumann’s ultra-sensitive disposition. After this Schumann went out of his way to ensure the publication of the songs was treated with especial care so it could be a suitable monument to the poet.

 

This haunting cycle that begins so simply with a blacksmith’s song culminates in Héloïse’s Lament on the death of Abelard. The anonymous translation of the famous Latin text is not well done but its sentiment is undeniably sincere and Schumann’s music reflects this. As Graham Johnson points out in his incomparable notes, Schumann may have been mourning the golden days of the great love of Robert and Clara just as Héloïse was mourning the memory of her tragic love for Abelard, the great lover and philosopher who ended his days stripped of his manhood and vilified by the church.

 

The opening forging song is from Lenau’s version of Faust. The piano hammers away smithy style and the singer is given a simple and catchy tune. Meine Rose is the best-known song in this cycle with its beautiful, flowing melody exploring the symbolic imagery of the rose and the reviving water drawn from the dunklem, tiefen Bronnen. The miniature Kommen und Scheiden catches to perfection the terrible wrench of parting from a lover. Die Sennin comes from the long tradition of romanticised Alpine songs where the mountain girl minds her herd singing her glorious, bright, echoing song, to be remembered forever by the grauen Felsenzinnen – poet, composer and singer all seeking immortality in their song. Einsamkeit shows Schumann’s genius for creating in three brief minutes an entire world, the deserted lover, the silent wood, the unceasing lament that seeks der Geist der Liebe, a single moment of soaring perfection followed a moment later by the return to hopelessness. The final song, Der schwere Abend, revisits a dark dream of lost and anguished love from Dichterliebe, the final terrible line a fitting prelude to the subject if not the mood of Requiem. For this great setting of Héloïse’s Lament is more a celebration than a mourning, with a great and stirring climax and even, at seligem Verein, a hint of Schumann’s wonderful creation the Davidsbund, the league of David, who forever fight against the philistines.