Who killed Shelley Nance

Song was one of the foremost genres of the Romantic age, and Felix Mendelssohn was engaged in song composition at intervals from childhood until his untimely death at the age of thirty-eight. His first known song, indeed one of his first extant compositions of any kind, is the Song for my good father's birthday, composed on an anonymous text for Abraham Mendelssohn’s birthday on 11 December 1819 by his ten-year-old son. (Abraham supposedly told a friend: 'Once I was the son of a famous father [the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn], and now I am the father of a famous son'; it was Abraham who took the radical step of not having his sons circumcised and having them baptized into the Lutheran church in 1816.) This sweet specimen of juvenilia foreshadows Mendelssohn's love of strophic song thereafter; simple, heartfelt, and straightforward in a hymn-like G major, the song ends with a postlude in which the precocious child experiments with a modicum of chromaticism.

In homage to the taste of their Francophile father, both Felix and Fanny were drawn to the works of Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794), imprisoned for his participation in French republican activities in 1794; although he escaped execution and was released, he died at his estate only a few months later. He wrote fables, romances and idylls in the style of Salomon Gessner (another Mendelssohn poet), as well as the immortal Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un instant; Pauvre Jeanette is a gentle lament for a lass who preferred a shepherd to a king. The young Mendelssohn sets these quasi-folkloric words as an artfully simple plaint in minor mode.

First loss is the only Mendelssohn – Goethe song on this set; the young musical prodigy spent two weeks at the great writer's house on the Frauenplan in Weimar in November 1821. 'Every morning I receive a kiss from the author of Faust and Werther', Felix wrote to his father, 'and every afternoon two kisses from Goethe, friend and father '. The poet’s famous words about bygone first love as a rite of passage, a never-to-be-forgotten source of pain, were originally created for the second act of Goethe’s unfinished opera libretto, The unequal housemates (‘The Dissimilar Lodgers’), and were inspired by the Countess Almaviva’s arias ‘Porgi amor’ and ‘Dove sono’, from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, which Goethe was translating into German at the time. The twelve-year-old Felix brought his sister Fanny’s setting of the poem with him to Weimar and would set it to music himself twenty years later, on August 9, 1841; it was published posthumously with five other songs as Op 99 in 1852. The poem exemplifies Goethe’s art of Experience poem, or poetry drawn from life. When Mendelssohn’s persona repeats the rhetorical question / statement, ‘who can bring back the beautiful days of first love?’, Over and over, he or she brings to sounding life the mixture of incredulity and resignation in these words; the repetitions enact the ways in which memory renews pain.

Friedrich von Schiller’s (1759–1805) words for Girl's suit come from Act 3 of The piccolomini, the second play in Schiller's trilogy of dramas about Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein, the Bohemian generalissimo of the Habsburg armies during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), a terrifying creature who was wont to kill all the dogs and cats upon entering a town. Max, the son of Wallenstein’s lieutenant Octavio Piccolomini, and Wallenstein’s daughter Thekla fall in love, despite the enmity between their families; parted from Max, Thekla sings this famous lament. Schubert wrestled with it three times (D6, D191 and D389, the second setting being the most famous), but Mendelssohn engaged the words only once; his harmonically rich song was published posthumously as The Maiden’s Lament in London in 1866.

The words of Ache gently in the breath of the evening air come from the eighteenth-century poet Friedrich von Matthisson, whose poems were praised by Schiller for their melancholy sweetness and tender descriptions of Nature. Schubert set this poem to music in 1815 under the poet’s own title Death wreath for a child (‘Funeral Garland for a Child’), and Mendelssohn’s setting followed seven years later in December 1822. Hearing this song, we remember that infant mortality in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was at rates we can barely comprehend nowadays; the mind shudders away from the statistics. Towards the end of this sensitive, extended setting, we hear the influence of Baroque music when the grief-stricken parents sing of wandering without relief through the world's chaos; here, the vocal line is like a chorale cantus firmus beneath which the piano sinks by degrees to a hymn-like ending.

Wanderlied Op 57 No 6 is a setting of one of Joseph von Eichendorff’s most famous and emblematic poems: Fresh ride ("Brisk Journey") of 1810. In this poet’s world, centrifugal and centripetal forces draw his personae either closer to God or further from Him. Poets seduced by the nature-magic of the world in all its beauty, all its sensual delights, are in particular danger of wandering to their doom; here, a persona lured by springtime’s gleaming beauty sets forth on a journey with no thought of any goal or end. In Mendelssohn’s beautiful setting, chromatic excursions hint at those other places that await exploration, and the occasional slight touches of darkness allude to the dangers of the enterprise. The forest castle is a setting of The bold one (‘The Bold Man’), an eerie exercise in Romantic folklore with under- and overtones of Eichendorff’s characteristic religious meanings (he was a dogmatic Roman Catholic). A bold hunter goes above and beyond the limits explored by others in his pursuit of Nature and sensuality; in his sinfulness, he vanishes from all knowledge into the depths of the forest (that age-old symbol of the subconscious) once he declares his allegiance to love. For this quasi-medievalizing poem, Mendelssohn uses the ‘alt-Deutsch’ musical style, full of horn-calls and dotted rhythms, associated with tales of knights and castles in nineteenth-century song. Most of us know It knows and nobody advises it in Schumann’s setting in the Op 39 song cycle, but Mendelssohn too set this poem to music, possibly in September 1842, as a gift for Antonka Hiller, the beautiful and accomplished Polish-born singer married to the affable composer and conductor Ferdinand Hiller, a friend of Felix's since 1825. Eichendorff's poem was first published in Book 2 Chapter 14 of his 1815 novel Premonition and present, following a scene in which the protagonist Friedrich has been embraced by the young ‘boy’ Erwin: actually a girl named Erwine who, Mignon-like, dies young. Erwin / Erwine sings this song ostensibly to herself — but Friedrich overhears her. Mendelssohn divides his beautiful setting of all four verses (Schumann set only three) into a wistful initial zone in minor mode, replete with desire-laden chromatic yearning, and the longer, brighter, motion-filled zone in major mode in which she imagines flying to Heaven itself. Her wish is soon fulfilled.

Charlotte to Werther, on a text by William Frederick Collard, a partner in a London piano manufacturing firm, might have originated during Felix’s first visit to London in 1829. Collard’s poem is an imagined extension of Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, published in 1774 when its creator was in his mid-twenties and an instant sensation: Napoleon praised it, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein found in it a mirror of his own rejection by those he loved. In letters to his friend Wilhelm, Werther describes his stay in Wahlheim, where he falls in love with the beautiful Charlotte, engaged to an older man named Albert. Towards the end, as Werther and the now-married Charlotte read the Scottish writer James Macpherson’s Ossian poems together, Werther, unable to resist any longer, kisses her; ‘Trembling between love and anger’, she cried, ‘this is the last time, Werther! You shall never see me again! ’. Shortly after, Werther kills himself with Albert’s pistols. The Sorrows of Young Werther has often been described as the artistic metamorphosis of the young Goethe's hopeless love for the nineteen-year-old Charlotte Buff in 1772, when he was living in the town of Wetzlar, but the Goethe scholar Nicholas Boyle has rightly asserted that this novel has much more to do with the dilemma of a generation of sensitive souls who felt that Promethean genius was required of any artist. Unable to meet such demands, they are destroyed and rush headlong to death. The 'Editor', who narrates the end of Goethe's tale, says 'we hardly dare express in words the emotions with which Charlotte's soul was filled during the whole of this time', but Collard and others were only too happy to rush in where angels feared to tread. Charlotte’s reproach to the young man — “How Werther can thy soul endure / To blight a heart so kind and pure’ — is breast-beating melodrama, but Mendelssohn’s expressive lament tames the crassness into beauty.

By Mendelssohn’s day, there was a venerable tradition of great composers arranging folk songs: Haydn did it, and so did Beethoven. Only days before his nephew Felix Dirichlet's death of complications from measles on November 17, 1838, Mendelssohn provided the contralto Mary Shaw (1814–1876) with his arrangement of a familiar Scottish folksong, 'O dinna ask me' (it begins, appropriately enough, with a 'Scotch snap' rhythmic pattern). The audience loved it, and the publisher Friedrich Kistner then asked Mendelssohn for still more Scottish songs. Despite the family’s grief, Mendelssohn obliged in December with five more, the group of six songs published in February 1839 as Six Scottish National Songs with no mention of Mendelssohn’s hand in the matter. And Romanticism’s fascination with all things Celtic also fueled the cottage industry in German translations of the works of Sir Walter Scott; in fact, Mendelssohn’s setting of Ave Maria from Scott’s long romance poem The Lady of the Lake (translated by Adam Storck) precedes Schubert’s famous Ellen's Singing III D839 by five years. Schubert knew the context in Scott's narrative, in which Roderick Dhu, chief of the Clan Alpine and hopelessly in love with Ellen Douglas, overhears her harp-accompanied song to the Virgin, but the eleven-year-old Felix channels Bach and Handel for his semi-sacred song, set over an octave-reinforced 'walking bass' throughout. Rest, warriors! War is over what also set by Schubert as Ellen's Singing I. D837; in Scott’s poem, Ellen beguiles the disguised King James V (1512–1542), who has stumbled across the hiding place of the Douglas clan, with this soothing song of a Scottish siren. Schubert’s rondo song is a masterpiece of enchanting complexity; he was in his late twenties, after all, much older than the boy Mendelssohn, who treats a shortened version of the poem, minus its last four verses, as a simpler, sturdier, more folkloric affair.

Next follows a song that is Mendelssohn-in-a-nutshell, its strophic form, warmth and sweetness, and subtle details precisely the characteristics for which this composer is best known in the realm of song. The Folk song sets a poem by the Scots poet Robert Burns (‘The Plowman Poet’ or ‘The Bard of Ayrshire’) as translated into German by Ferdinand Freiligrath, famous in his day for his political and nationalist poetry. Mendelssohn’s duet setting of this text, Op 63 No 5, is familiar to many, but the composer also wrote out solo versions in 1842 and in his wife Cécile’s songbook at Christmas 1845.

For his Minnelong Op 47 No 1, published in 1839, Mendelssohn turned to the poetry of Ludwig Tieck, who was one of the founding fathers of German Romanticism. The poem is a lover’s compliment — Minne ’is the Germanic version of courtly love in the Middle Ages — to a beloved who outshines all of spring and summer’s beauty. The catalog of Nature’s beauties begins with a comparison to a stream, and Mendelssohn seizes the opportunity to create a gently chromatic babbling brook in the piano against the backdrop of the springtime key of A major (the key also of The bouquet Op 47 No 5, Sunday song Op 34 No 5 and O youth, oh beautiful rose season! Op 57 No 4), transposed to F major for a baritone in the present performance. The forest rustles, the spring leaps is an undated setting of another poem by Tieck entitled ‘Der Junggesell’ (‘The Bachelor’). The poem begins as a celebration of Nature and Romantic Wanderlust before modulating into a protest against poverty and against the difficulties of obtaining divorce, all couched within a merry jape about what we might now call male fear of commitment ’. Mendelssohn ignores the sociology in the middle and composes the most vivacious song of the open road one could imagine, full of mountain goat-like leaps and grace-noted exuberance for the singer.

The next three songs are linked by poetic content and musical echoes of one another. question, to a poem by Mendelssohn's tutor and friend Johann Gustav Droysen masquerading as 'JN Voss', encapsulates in a single page of music all the emotions most human beings feel at the moment when they first realize that their love for someone else just might be reciprocated . ‘Is it true?’ (Is it true? ’), We ask, and not just once: Mendelssohn’s persona makes the same words evoke doubt, a touch of fear, urgency and sweetness by turns. Mendelssohn was a composition student of Carl Friedrich Zelter, and so in his youth was the actor, baritone and theater reformer Eduard Devrient, who supplied Mendelssohn with the words for the next song, confession ('Confession'). (Devrient sang the part of Christ in Felix's 1829 revival of Bach's St Matthew Passion.) In this song, the love-struck questioning continues, beginning with the same three-note query as before in the singer's part, but the temperatures are hotter this time. The cliché of Mendelssohn the coolly classicizing adherent of abstract values ​​is again put to the test by the almost violent expressivity of this song; it packs into one page as many different shades of amorous entreaty as a young, desperate, would-be lover could devise. The familiar words ‘Is it true?’ Recur in the next song, On, restless, breathless, at appropriately breathless speed, and no wonder: the beloved ‘Maria’ from confession is now accused of betrayal. The tale of love that began with that shy, ardent question two songs before ends in despair.

The Christmas carol was composed in 1832 as a Christmas present for his younger sister Rebecka Henriette (1811-1858), who had married the mathematician Peter Dirichlet in May of that year. Mendelssohn also sent this work to the theologian Albert Bauer on 20 December 1832. Bauer had praised Felix’s revival of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, and this reverential carol, unfurling in part over a Bach-style ostinato, was tailor-made for him. Mendelssohn found his text in the 54 Spiritual odes and songs ("Spiritual Odes and Songs") by the pious Leipzig philosopher Christian Fürchtegott Gellert; these poems, combining religiosity with Enlightenment rationalism, were enormously popular with composers including C P E Bach (who set this text as a cantata) and Beethoven.

Of all your tender gifts—The poet has not yet been located — was composed on September 18, 1822 during a family trip to Switzerland; Mendelssohn would make three more trips there in later years. For this strophic song Mendelssohn only wrote out the words for the first stanza but clearly intended the remaining verses to be sung as well. In the absence of the complete original poem, Waldemar Weinheimer has supplied two more verses with which to hymn a May day, replete with love and music in the same sweet manner as stanza 1. The Lullaby, with its tender inflection from E major to C major in the middle, was composed that same day; it too is strophic, its poet too is unknown, and Waldemar Weinheimer has once again written two additional stanzas to round out the song. We can hear in these two songs that Mendelssohn was working with some of the same musical ideas, such as streams of parallel thirds and linear chromaticism, and that a similar Andante sweetness pervades both songs, although each strophe of the spring song ends with a surge of joy.

For his darkly dramatic song Four cloudy moons have passed away, Mendelssohn set only the first three verses of Ludwig Hölty’s ‘Song of a girl on the death of her playmate’. We do not know when the song was composed, as no autograph manuscript has been located; Louis Weissenborn copied this work, as well as I look into the night crying, Expectation, and Love and silence. Four cloudy moons was published in 1882 by the composer Carl Reinecke (teacher to Edvard Grieg, Leoš Janácek, Max Bruch and others), and the version we hear on this disc is based on the Weissenborn manuscript.

Love and silence was created in 1840 or 1841 as a gift for a friend, the Biblical scholar Konstantin von Tischendorf, who discovered what was for a time the oldest known copy of the Septuagint in a trash heap at a monastery on Mount Sinai. His single anthology of poetry, the May buds ("May Buds") of 1838, is somewhat anodyne, but one sympathizes with the lover in this poem, who, like a shy scholar, never confesses his love. Mendelssohn gives him sweetly eloquent music to express what he otherwise could not. Suleika is a setting of a famous poem by Marianne von Willemer (née Jung); adopted by a Frankfurt banker, she became his third wife in 1814. The couple visited Goethe in Wiesbaden; the great poet, immediately drawn to Marianne, visited them later in 1814, and again in August and September 1815. Although Goethe and Marianne never saw each other again after that, they corresponded until Goethe's death, and her poems as 'Suleika' to his 'Hatem' were included in the great poet's West-east divan of 1819, inspired by the poetry of the great fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz of Shiraz, as if Goethe himself had written them. The truth was not revealed until a few years before Marianne’s death in 1860; Mendelssohn would have thought that this was a poem by the world-famous genius, not by one of Goethe’s most gifted Muses. This undated setting is utterly different from the published setting Op 34 No 4, a fleet creation driven by love’s joyous energies. Here, the song is ushered in by a brief, rising, swelling figure in the piano, beautifully evocative both of the wind’s motion and of passion on the increase.

So sleep in peace! was, so we learn from a copy by Cécile Mendelssohn’s sister Julie Jeanrenaud, composed on 22 March 1838 and is a setting of a poem by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, famous both for his revolutionary poems and his songs for children. No cannon sound in this tender lullaby for a child; in the refrain, we can almost see the child’s eyelids gradually drifting downwards until they close in sleep. The Boyar death song (‘Death song of the Boyars’) comes from Act 5 Scene 5 of The boyars, the first play in the trilogy Alexis (1832) by Karl Leberecht Immermann, who fought against Napoleon at Waterloo. (Boyars were serf-owning aristocrats second only to the tsar’s family in feudal Slavic societies from the tenth to the seventeenth centuries.) The older writer and younger composer had met to discuss a possible operational collaboration; if Alexis did not inspire Mendelssohn to make an opera from it, he did compose this song a few years later, on 13 October 1841, the result perhaps being the most arctic-austere two pages in all of Mendelssohn. And no wonder: in the play it is sung by the boyars Stephan Gleboff, Basilius Dolgoruki and Abraham Lapuchin as they await execution for treason against the tsar Peter the Great (the trilogy focuses on Peter's only son, Alexei or Alexis, who was tortured and killed on Peter's orders in 1718).

Expectation is one of the songs copied by Louis Weissenborn and published by Carl Reinecke in 1882, and it is a mystery: we do not know when it was composed, for what reason, or who the poet might be. This lament in E minor by a woman whose beloved has gone away is so beautiful that one would like to know more. (Mendelssohn seems to have preferred this key for songs of sorrow, including Why are the roses so pale?, gloss, Sleepless eyes light other Winter song, in addition to The forest castle and the boyars ’death-song.) Each of its three stanzas ends with a hushed plagal cadence in parallel major mode in the piano, perhaps indicative of inner prayers for a happy conclusion to her sorrow or wish-fulfillment fantasies of his return. And the wind scatters over you was, like the Tischendorf Lied, a gift in July 1844 to a friend, the pianist Walter Cecil Macfarren, who taught for many years at the Royal Academy of Music and whose brother was the composer Sir George Alexander Macfarren. Each verse of this miniature song begins and ends in quasi-philosophical resignation to the passing of Time, youth and dreams, but the increasing intensity of the interior tells of grief not yet banished. I see into the night crying, to an as-yet unidentified text, was composed on 22 December 1828 and not published until 1882 with the title Why i cry! (‘Why I weep!’).

If some of the songs on these discs are disarmingly modest, Ch’io t’abbandono in periglio sì grande is an elaborate concert aria that puts the singer through his paces. It was composed on September 5, 1825, probably for Franz Hauser (1794–1870), a ‘pretty good bass’, in Felix’s words, and a fellow Bach enthusiast who provided Felix with as yet unpublished works by Bach. The text comes from the opera seria libretto Achille in Sciro by Pietro Metastasio (the pseudonym for Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi), an inventive re-scrambling of Greek mythology in which Achilles ’mother hides her son on the island of Scyros. There, he dons female garb in an attempt to evade the army, but Ulysses spots the disguise and the two depart for Troy. Mendelssohn put together two separate passages from the already outdated textual source — the Mendelssohn scholar R Larry Todd sums up this work as belonging to Felix's lifelong frustrated quest for suitable opera libretti — to form a dramatic recitative, an Andante con moto lyrical section, and a lengthy concluding Molto allegro and Più presto work-out.

We end with an adage appropriate for this occasion: the Folk song Op 47 No 4, published in 1839, on a poem by Ernst von Feuchtersleben, a Viennese psychiatrist, philosopher and poet. ‘It is determined in God's advice’ ’(It is decreed in God’s law’) was published in his Poems of 1836. After three melancholy verses about Time that robs us of those we love, the song ends with the consolatory words ‘until we meet again!’.

Susan Youens © 2010

Le lied a été l'un des genres les plus prisés de l'ère romantique et Felix Mendelssohn s'est investi dans la composition de lieder à intervalles réguliers, de son enfance jusqu'à sa mort prématurée à l'âge de trente-huit ans. Son premier lied connu, en fait l’une de ses premières œuvres existantes, est le Song for my good father's birthday, composé sur un texte anonyme pour l’anniversaire d’Abraham Mendelssohn, le 11 December 1819 par son fils alors âgé de dix ans. (Il paraît qu'Abraham a dit à un ami: “Autrefois, j'étais le fils d'un père célèbre [le philosophe Moses Mendelssohn], et aujourd'hui je suis le père d'un fils célèbre”; c'est Abraham qui a pris la décision radicale de ne pas faire circoncire ses fils et de les faire baptiser à l'église luthérienne en 1816.) Ce sympathique exemple d'œuvre de jeunesse annonce l'amour que Mendelssohn a porté par la suite au chant strophique ; simple, sincère et direct dans un sol majeur comparable à un hymne, ce lied s’achève par un postlude où l’enfant précoce expérimente un minimum de chromatisme.

Grâce à la francophilie de leur père, Felix comme Fanny ont été attirés par les œuvres de Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794), emprisonné pour sa participation aux activités republicaines françaises en 1794; bien qu’il ait échappé à l’exécution et ait été libéré, il est mort chez lui seulement quelques mois plus tard. Il a écrit des fables, des romances et des idylles dans le style de Salomon Gessner (autre poète de Mendelssohn), ainsi que l’immortel Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un instant; Pauvre Jeanette est une douce complainte pour une jeune fille qui a préféré un berger à un roi. Le jeune Mendelssohn met en musique ces paroles presque folkloriques comme une lamentation simple et ingénieuse en mode mineur.

First loss est le seul lied Mendelssohn– Goethe de ce recueil; le jeune prodige de la musique a passé deux semaines dans la maison du grand écrivain sur la place Frauenplan, à Weimar, en novembre 1821. "Tous les matins, je reçois un baiser de l'auteur de Faust et de Werther", écrivait Felix à son père, "et tous les après-midi deux baisers de Goethe, ami et père". Les célèbres phrases du poète sur le premier amour d’antan comme rite de passage, une source de douleur à ne jamais oublier, ont été écrites à l’origine pour le deuxième acte du livret d’opéra inachevé de Goethe, The unequal housemates ("Les colocataires mal assortis") et lui ont été inspirés par les arias de la comtesse Almaviva, "Porgi amor" and "Dove sono" des Noces de Figaro de Mozart, that Goethe était en train de traduire en allemand à cette époque. Felix, âgé de douze ans, a emporté avec lui à Weimar la musique de sa sœur Fanny sur ce poème qu’il allait lui-même mettre en musique vingt ans plus tard, le 9 août 1841; il a été publié à titre posthumous avec cinq autres songs sous l’op. 99, en 1852. Ce poème illustrious l’art de Goethe de l’Experience poem, ou poésie tirée de la vie. Lorsque le personnage de Mendelssohn répète sans arrêt la question en forme de déclaration rhetorique "Qui peut ramener les beaux jours du premier amour?", Il ou elle donne une vie sonore au mélange d’incrédulité et de résignation que recèlent ces paroles; les répétitions représentent les façons dont la mémoire fait revivre la douleur.

Le texte de Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805) pour Girl's suit est tiré du troisième acte de The piccolomini, deuxième pièce de la trilogie dramatique de Schiller sur Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein, le généralissime bohémien des armées Habsbourg pendant la Guerre de Trente Ans (1618–1648), créature terrifiante qui avait coutume de tuer tous les chiens et tous dans une ville. Max, fils du lieutenant de Wallenstein, Octavio Piccolomini, et la fille de Wallenstein, Thekla, tombent amoureux, malgré l’hostilité qui règne entre leurs familles; séparée de Max, Thekla chante cette célèbre complainte. Schubert s’est débattu avec elle à trois reprises (D6, D191 et D389, la seconde étant la plus célèbre), mais Mendelssohn n’a mis qu’une seule fois ce texte en musique; son lied, riche sur le plan harmonique, a été publié à titre posthume à Londres, en 1866, sous le titre The Maiden’s Lament.

Le texte de Ache gently in the breath of the evening air est le fruit du poète du XVIIIe siècle Friedrich von Matthisson, dont Schiller appréciait les poèmes pour leur douceur mélancolique et leurs tendres descriptions de la nature. Schubert a mis ce poème en musique en 1815 sous le propre titre du poète, Death wreath for a child ("Guirlande funéraire pour un enfant"), et la musique de Mendelssohn est de sept ans postérieure (December 1822). En écoutant ce lied, on se souvient que le taux de mortalité infantile aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles atteignait un niveau à peine compréhensible de nos jours; l’esprit frémit loin des statistics. Vers la fin de ce lied long et sensible, on perçoit l’influence de la musique baroque lorsque les parents accablés de douleur chantent une errance sans fin au travers du chaos du monde; ici, la ligne vocale ressemble à un cantus firmus de choral sous lequel le piano sombre par étapes dans une conclusion d’hymne.

Le Wanderlied, op. 57 no 6, met en musique l’un des poèmes les plus célèbres et emblématiques de Joseph von Eichendorff: Fresh ride ("Voyage vivifiant"; 1810). Dans l’univers de ce poète, les forces centrifuge et centripète rapprochent ses personnages de Dieu ou bien les en écartent. Les poètes séduits par la nature, magie du monde dans toute sa beauté, tous ses plaisirs sensuels, risquent particulièrement d’errer jusqu’à leur perte; ici, un personnage attiré par la beauté brillé du printemps part en voyage sans but. Dans la magnifique musique de Mendelssohn, les excursions chromatiques évoquent d’autres lieux qui attendent d’être explorés et les légères touches occasionnelles d’obscurité font allusion aux risques de l’aventure. The forest castle met en musique The bold one ("L’audacieux"), un étrange exercice de folklore romantique avec des sous-entendus religieux caractéristiques d’Eichendorff (c’était un catholique romain dogmatique). Un chasseur audacieux dépasse les limites explorées par d’autres dans sa recherche de la nature et de la sensualité; dans son caractère immoral, il disparaît dans les profondeurs de la forêt (le symbole ancestral du subconscient) après avoir déclaré son allégeance à l’amour. Pour ce poème presque médiéval, Mendelssohn utilize le style musical «old-German», plein de sonneries de cors et de rythmes pointés, que l’on associe aux contes de chevalerie et de châteaux dans les lieder du XIXe siècle. Nous connaissons pour la plupart It knows and nobody advises it in the version qu’en a donnée Schumann in the les song cycle, op. 39, mais Mendelssohn a également mis ce poème en musique, probablement en septembre 1842, pour l'offrir à Antonka Hiller, la belle et talentueuse chanteuse d'origine polonaise, femme de l'affable compositeur et chef d'orchestre Ferdinand Hiller, ami de Mendelssohn depuis 1825. Le poème d'Eichendorff a été publié pour la première fois dans le Livre 2, chapter 14 de son roman Premonition and present (1815), à la suite d’une scene or the protagonist Friedrich a été étreint par le jeune “garçon” Erwin: en réalité une fille nommée Erwine qui, comme Mignon, meurt jeune. Erwin / Erwine chante cette mélodie ostensiblement pour elle-même — mais Friedrich l’entend par hasard. Mendelssohn divise sa magnifique musique des quatre strophes (Schumann n'en a mis que trois en musique) en une section initiale mélancolique de mode mineur, remplie d'aspirations chromatiques, et une section plus longue, plus brillante, pleine de mouvement, en mode majeur, où elle imagine s'envoler elle-même vers les cieux. Son désir est bientôt exaucé.

Charlotte to Werther, est écrit sur un texte de William Frederick Collard, qui était l’associé d’une manufacture de pianos londonienne; ce lied a peut-être vu le jour au cours du premier voyage à Londres de Felix Mendelssohn, en 1829. Le poème de Collard est un prolongement imaginaire du roman de Goethe Les souffrances du jeune Werther, publié en 1774 lorsque son créateur avait environ vingt-cinq ans et qui a fait aussitôt sensation: Napoléon en a chanté les louanges, et Frankenstein de Mary Shelley y a trouvé un miroir de son propre rejet par ceux qu’il aime. Dans des lettres à son ami Wilhelm, Werther décrit son séjour à Wahlheim, où il tombe amoureux de la belle Charlotte, fiancée à un homme plus âgé nommé Albert. Vers la fin, lorsque Werther et Charlotte, alors mariée, lisent ensemble les poèmes d’Ossian de l’écrivain écossais James Macpherson, Werther, incapable de résister davantage, l’embrasse; “Tremblante entre l’amour et la colère”, elle lui dit: “Voilà la dernière fois, Werther! Vous ne me reverrez plus! ». Peu après, Werther se tue avec les pistolets d'Albert. Les souffrances du jeune Werther ont souvent été décrites comme la métamorphose artistique de l'amour sans espoir que portait le jeune Goethe à Charlotte Buff, âgée de dix-neuf ans, en 1772, lorsqu'il vivait dans la ville de Wetzlar, mais le spécialiste de Goethe, Nicholas Boyle, a affirmé à juste titre que ce roman relève davantage du dilemme d'une génération d'âmes sensibles pour qui le génie prométhéen était inherent à tous les artistes. Incapables de s’y soumettre, ils sont anéantis et se jettent tête baissée dans la mort. Selon “l'Éditeur” qui raconte la fin de l'histoire de Goethe: “on ose à peine exprimer en paroles les émotions qui habitaient l'âme de Charlotte à cette époque”, mais Collard et d'autres encore étaient trop heureux de se précipiter là où les ans n'osaient s'aventurer. Le reproche de Charlotte au jeune homme— “How Werther can thy soul endure / To blight a heart so kind and pure” (“Werther, comment ton âme peut-elle supporter / de briser un cœur si bon et si pur”) - est un mea-culpa mélodramatique, mais la complainte expressive de Mendelssohn transfigure la grossièreté en une réelle beauté.

À l’époque de Mendelssohn, de grands compositeurs entretenaient une tradition vénérable en arrangeant des chansons traditionalnelles: Haydn l’a fait, Beethoven also.Quelques jours seulement avant la mort de son neveu Felix Dirichlet des complications d'une rougeole, le 17 novembre 1838, Mendelssohn an offert à la contralto Mary Shaw (1814–1876) son arrangement d'une chanson traditionnelle écossaise connue, “O dinna ask me ”(qui commence, assez judicieusement, par une figure rythmique de“ Scotch snap ”, en rythme lombard). Devant le succès remporté, l’éditeur Friedrich Kistner a alors demandé à Mendelssohn d’autres chansons écossaises. Malgré le chagrin familial, Mendelssohn lui a rendu ce service en décembre avec cinq autres lieder, le groupe de six lieder étant publié en février 1839 sous le titre Six Scottish National Songs Without mentioning the main de Mendelssohn en la matière. Et la fascination du romantisme pour tout ce qui touchait au monde celtique a also alimenté une industrie artisanale de traductions en allemand des œuvres de Walter Scott; en fait, la musique de Mendelssohn pour l ’Ave Maria à partir du poème narratif de Scott The Lady of the Lake ("La Dame du lac"; traduit en allemand par Adam Storck) précède de cinq ans le célèbre Ellen's Singing III, D839, de Schubert. Schubert connaissait le contexte du récit de Scott, où Roderick Dhu, chef du clan d'Alpine et éperdument amoureux d'Ellen Douglas, entend par hasard son chant à la Vierge accompagné à la harpe, mais Felix, qui n'a que onze ans , se réfère à Bach et Haendel pour son chant semi-sacré, entièrement sur une "walking bass" renforcée à l'octave. Rest, warriors! War is over ("Repose-toi, Guerrier, la guerre est finie") a également été mis en musique par Schubert sous le titre Ellen's Singing I., D837; dans le poème de Scott, Ellen enjôle le roi Jacques V (1512–1542) déguisé, qui est tombé sur le lieu où se cachait le clan Douglas, avec ce chant apaisant d’une sirène écossaise. Le lied-rondo de Schubert est un chef-d’œuvre de complexité enchanteresse; il avait alors entre vingt-cinq et trente ans et était donc beaucoup plus âgé que l’enfant Mendelssohn, qui traite une version écourtée du poème, amputé de ses quatre dernières strophes, comme quelque chose de plus simple, plus robust, plus folklorique.

Vient ensuite un lied qui résume en un mot Mendelssohn, avec sa forme strophique, sa chaleur et sa douceur, ainsi que des détails subtils, précisément les caractéristiques pour lesquelles ce compositeur est surtout connu au royaume du lied: le Folk song sur un poème du poète écossais Robert Burns ("Le Poète laboreur" or "Le Barde de l’Ayrshire") traduit en allemand par Ferdinand Freiligrath, célèbre en son temps pour sa poésie politique et nationaliste. Le duo de Mendelssohn sur ce texte, op.63 no 5, est très connu, mais le compositeur a également écrit des versions à une voix en 1842 et dans le livre de chant de sa femme Cécile à Noël 1845.

Pour son Minnelong, op. 47 no 1 2 1, publié en 1839, Mendelssohn s’est tourné vers la poésie de Ludwig Tieck, l’un des pères fondateurs du romantisme allemand. Le poème est un compliment d’amoureux— “Minne” is the version Germanique de l’amour courtois au Moyen-Âge — à sa bien-aimée qui éclipse toute la beauté du printemps et de l’été. Le catalog des beautés de la nature commence par une comparaison avec un ruisseau, et Mendelssohn saisit l'opportunité de créer un murmure de ruisseau doucement chromatique au piano avec, en toile de fond, la tonalité printanière de la majeur (qui est aussi la tonalité de The bouquet, op.47 no 5, Sunday song, op. 34 no 5 et O youth, oh beautiful rose season!, op. 57 no 4), transposée en fa majeur pour baryton dans la présente execution. The forest rustles, the spring leaps, non daté, met en musique un autre poème de Tieck intitulé “The bachelor” (“Le célibataire”). Le poème commence par une célébration de la nature et du Wanderlust romantique avant de moduler en protestation contre la pauvreté et contre les difficultés à obtenir un divorce, le tout formulé dans une joyeuse farce sur ce que l'on pourrait aujourd'hui appeler «la peur masculine de l'engagement ». Mendelssohn ignore la sociologie du milieu et compose le chant de marche le plus allègre que l’on puisse imaginer, plein de bonds de chèvres chamoisées et d’exubérance ornementale pour le chanteur.

Les trois songs suivants sont liés par leur contenu poétique et par des échos musicaux de l’un à l’autre. question («Question»), sur un poème du professeur et ami de Mendelssohn Johann Gustav Droysen qui se faisait passer pour «J. N. Voss », résume en une seule page de musique toutes les émotions que ressentent la plupart des êtres humains au moment où ils comprennent pour la première fois que l’amour qu’ils portent à un autre pourrait être payé de return. "Est-ce vrai?" (“Is it true?”), Demandons-nous, et plus d'une fois: le personnage de Mendelssohn utilize les mêmes mots pour évoquer tour à tour le doute, une touche de frayeur, l’urgence et la douceur. Mendelssohn avait étudié la composition avec Carl Friedrich Zelter, tout comme, dans sa jeunesse, le baryton, acteur et réformateur de théâtre Eduard Devrient, qui a fourni à Mendelssohn le texte du lied suivant, confession («Confession»). (Devrient a chanté le rôle du Christ dans la reprise par Mendelssohn en 1829 de la Passion selon saint Matthieu de Bach.) Dans ce lied, celui qui est éperdument amoureux continue à s'interroger, avec la même question initiale de trois notes qu ' Auparavant dans la partie du chanteur mais, cette fois, plus chaleureusement. Le cliché mendelssohnien du compositeur froid et classicisant, tenant des valeurs abstraites, est à nouveau battu en brèche par la force d'expression presque violente de ce lied; il fait tenir en une seule page autant de nuances différentes de prières que pourrait en concevoir un jeune amoureux désespéré en puissance. Les mots familiers «Is it true?» reviennent dans le lied suivant, On, restless, breathless (“Encore, sans répit, à bout de souffle”), à une vitesse à couper le souffle et, ce qui n’est pas étonnant, la bien-aimée “Maria” de confession est maintenant accusée de trahison. L’histoire d’amour qui a commencé par cette question timide et fervente two songs plus tôt s’achève dans le désespoir.

Le Christmas carol (Noël) a été composé en 1832 comme cadeau de Noël pour sa jeune sœur Rebecka Henriette (1811–1858), qui avait épousé le mathématicien Peter Dirichlet au mois de mai de la même année. Mendelssohn a aussi envoyé cette œuvre au théorien Albert Bauer, le 20 December 1832. Bauer avait félicité Mendelssohn pour avoir faire revivre la Passion selon saint Matthieu de Bach, et ce noël révérencieux, qui se déroule en partato dans le ostinatoie de Mendelssohn , était fait pour lui. Mendelssohn a trouvé son texte dans les 54 Spiritual odes and songs ("Odes et chants spirituels") you pieux philosophe de Leipzig Christian Fürchtegott Gellert; ces poèmes, alliant religosité et rationalisme du Siècle des lumières, ont été très populaires chez les compositeurs, notamment C. P. E. Bach (qui a mis ce texte en musique sous forme de cantate) et Beethoven.

Of all your tender gifts—Le poète n’a pas encore été retrouvé — a été composé le 18 September 1822 au cours d’un voyage familial en Suisse; Mendelssohn allait encore s’y rendre à trois reprises par la suite. Pour ce lied strophique, Mendelssohn n’a écrit que les paroles de la première strophe, mais il voulait clairement que les vers suivants soient aussi chantés. En l’absence du poème original complete, Waldemar Weinheimer a écrit deux autres strophes à la gloire d’un jour de mai, also douces et pleines d’amour et de musique que la première strophe. Le Lullaby, avec ses tendres inflexions de mi majeur à ut majeur dans sa partie centrale a été composé le même jour; il est également strophique et son poète tout aussi inconnu; Waldemar Weinheimer a une fois encore écrit deux strophes supplémentaires pour parfaire le lied. In ces deux lieder, on peut remarquer que Mendelssohn travaillait avec certaines idées musicales identiques, comme les flots de tierces parallèles et le chromatisme linéaire, et qu'une douceur analogue à celle de l'Andante imprègne les deux lieder, bien que chaque strophe de la mélodie du printemps s'achève sur un élan de joie.

Pour son song sombre et dramatique Four cloudy moons have passed away, Mendelssohn n’a mis en musique que les trois premières strophes du “A girl's song on the death of her playmate” (“Chant d’une jeune fille sur la mort de sa camarade de jeu”) by Ludwig Hölty. On ignore quand ce lied a été composé, car on n’a retrouvé aucun manuscrit autographe; Louis Weissenborn a copié cette œuvre, ainsi que I look into the night crying, Expectation et Love and silence. Four cloudy moons a été publié en 1882 par le compositeur Carl Reinecke (professeur d’Edvard Grieg, Leoš Janácek, Max Bruch et d’autres encore) et la version que l’on entend dans ce disque repose sur le manuscrit de Weissenborn.

Love and silence date from 1840 or 1841. C'était un cadeau à un ami, le specialiste de la Bible Konstantin von Tischendorf, qui a decouvert ce qui fut pour un temps le plus ancien exemplaire connu de la Septante dans un tas d'ordures dans un monastère du Mont Sinaï. Son unique anthologie de poésie, les May buds ("Bourgeons de mai", 1838), est assez anodine, mais on éprouve de la sympathie envers l’amoureux de ce poème qui, comme un élève timide, n’avoue jamais son amour. Mendelssohn lui donne une musique mélodieuse et éloquente pour exprimer ce qu’il ne saurait dire autrement. Suleika met en musique un célèbre poème de Marianne by Willemer (née Jung); adopted by un banquier de Francfort, elle est devenue sa troisième épouse en 1814. Le couple a rendu visite à Goethe à Wiesbaden; le grand poète, immédiatement attiré par Marianne, s'est rendu chez eux un peu plus tard en 1814 et à nouveau en août et en septembre 1815.Bien que Goethe et Marianne ne se soient jamais revus par la suite, ils ont correspondu jusqu ' à la mort de Goethe, et les poèmes de Marianne comme "Suleika" jusqu'au poème de Goethe "Hatem" ont été inclus dans le West-east divan from 1819 de l’auteur de Faust, inspiré par la poésie du grand poète perse du XIVe siècle Hafiz de Shiraz, comme si Goethe les avaient lui-même écrits. La vérité n’a été révélée que quelques années avant la mort de Marianne in 1860; Mendelssohn a dû penser qu’il s’agissait d’un poème de Goethe, ce génie célèbre dans le monde entier, et non de l’une de ses muses les plus douées. Cette musique non datée est complètement différente de celle publiée sous l’op. 34 no 4, une création rapide motivée par les énergies joyeuses de l’amour. Ici, le lied est introduit par une brève figure ascendante et croissante au piano, qui évoque à merveille le mouvement du vent et la passion grandissante.

So sleep in peace! a été composé le 22 mars 1838, précision qui figure sur un exemplaire de la sœur de Cécile Mendelssohn, Julie Jeanrenaud. Ce lied met en musique un poème d’August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, célèbre pour ses poèmes révolutionnaires comme pour ses chansons enfantines. Il n’y a also canon dans cette tendre berceuse pour un enfant; dans le refrain, on peut presque voir les paupières de l’enfant se baisser doucement jusqu’à ce qu’elles se ferment dans le sommeil. Le Boyar death song ("Chant funèbre du boyard") vient de l’acte 5, scene 5 de The boyars, première pièce de la trilogie Alexis (1832) de Karl Leberecht Immermann, qui s’est battu contre Napoléon à Waterloo (les boyards étaient des aristocrates qui possédaient des serfs et venaient juste après la famille du tsar dans les sociétés féodales slaves du Xe au XVIIe siècle). L’écrivain plus âgé et le jeune compositeur s’étaient rencontrés pour discuter d’une collaboration lyrique éventuelle; si Alexis n’a pas inspiré d’opéra à Mendelssohn, il a composé ce lied quelques années plus tard, le 13 octobre 1841, sans doute les deux pages les plus austères et glaciales de toute l’œuvre de Mendelssohn. Et ce n'est pas étonnant: dans la pièce, il est chanté par les boyards Stephan Gleboff, Basilius Dolgoruki et Abraham Lapouchine pendant qu'ils attendent leur exécution pour avoir trahi le tsar Pierre le Grand (la trilogie se concentre sur le fils unique de Pierre, Alexei ou Alexis, qui a été torturé et tué sur ordre de Pierre en 1718).

Expectation est l’un des lieder copiés par Louis Weissenborn et publiés par Carl Reinecke en 1882, et c’est un mystère: on ne sait ni à quelle date, ni pour quelle raison il a été composé, ni qui en est le poète. Cette complainte en mi mineur d’une femme dont le bien-aimé est parti est si belle qu’on aimerait en savoir davantage (Mendelssohn semble avoir préféré cette tonalité pour les mélodies tristes, notamment Why are the roses so pale?, gloss, Sleepless eyes light et Winter song, ainsi que The forest castle et le "Chant funèbre du boyard"). Chacune de ses trois strophes s’achève sur une cadence plagale feutrée en mode majeur parallèle au piano, symbolisant peut-être des prières intérieures pour une heureuse conclusion à son chagrin ou le rêve de l’assouvissement du désir du retour du bien-aimé. And the wind scatters over you est, comme le Tischendorf Lied, un cadeau fait en juillet 1844 à un ami, le pianiste Walter Cecil Macfarren, qui a enseigné pendant de nombreuses années à la Royal Academy of Music et dont le frère était le compositeur Sir George Alexander Macfarren. Chaque strophe de ce lied miniature commence et s’achève dans une résignation presque philosophique au passage du temps, de la jeunesse et des rêves, mais l’intensité croissante de la partie centrale indique que le chagrin n’est pas encore banni. I see into the night crying, sur un texte non encore indentifié à ce jour, a été composé le 22 December 1828 et n’a été publié qu’en 1882 sous le titre Why i cry! («Pourquoi je pleure!»).

Si certains songs figurant dans ces disques sont d’une modestie désarmante, Ch’io t’abbandono in periglio sì grande est un air de concert élaboré qui met à l’épreuve le chanteur. Il a été composé le 5 septembre 1825, probablement pour Franz Hauser (1794–1870), une “basse pas mal du tout”, selon Felix Mendelssohn, et lui aussi un passionné de Bach qui a procuré à Mendelssohn des œuvres encore inédites de Bach . Le texte vient du livret de Pietro Métastase (pseudonyms de Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi) pour l’opera seria Achille in Sciro, un inventif remaniement brouillé de la mythologie grecque où la mère d’Achille cache son fils sur l’île de Scyros. Là, il met des vêtements de femme pour tenter d’échapper à l’armée, mais Ulysse repère le déguisement et ils partent tous deux pour troie. Mendelssohn réunit deux passages distincts du texte déjà démodé — le spécialiste de Mendelssohn, R. Larry Todd, résume cette œuvre comme appartenant à la quête éternelle et vaine de Mendelssohn d'un livret d'opéra adéquat — pour former un récitatique section lyrique Andante con moto et un assez long Molto allegro et Più presto en guise de conclusion.

Nous terminons par un adage approprié pour la circonstance: le Folk song op.47 no 4, publié en 1839, sur un poème d’Ernst von Feuchtersleben, psychiatre, philosophe et poète viennois. “It is determined in God's advice” (“C’est décrété dans la loi de Dieu”) a été publié dans ses Poems de 1836. Après trois vers mélancoliques sur le temps qui nous dérobe ceux que nous aimons, ce lied s’achève sur ces paroles de consolation “Jusqu’à ce que nous nous revoyions”.

Susan Youens © 2010
Français: Marie-Stella Pà ¢ ris

One of the most important genres of romanticism was the song and Felix Mendelssohn occupied himself with song composition from childhood until his untimely death at the age of 38. His first known song - one of his first recorded compositions - is this Song for my good father's birthday, in which the ten-year-old set an anonymous text to music for Abraham Mendelssohn's birthday on December 11, 1819. (Abraham Mendelssohn is reported to have said to a friend: "I used to be the son of my father [the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn], now I am the father of my son" and Abraham also made the fundamental decision not to have his sons circumcised, but them to be baptized in a Lutheran church in 1816.) This cute childhood work suggests Mendelssohn's later predilection for strophic songs. It is simple, intimate and straightforward in a hymn-like G major and ends with an aftermath in which the precocious child experiments with some chromaticism.

Both Felix and Fanny, paying tribute to their father's Francophile tastes, were fond of the works of Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794), who was imprisoned in 1794 for his participation in republican activities in France. Although he escaped execution and was released, he died on his estate only a few months later. He wrote fables, novellas and idylls in the style of Salomon Gessner (another Mendelssohn poet) and also the unforgettable one Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un instant. Pauvre Jeannette is a gentle lament for a girl who preferred a shepherd to a king. The young Mendelssohn sets these quasi-folkloric words to music as an artful, simple lament in a minor key.

First loss is the only Goethe song on the present recording. The musical child prodigy had spent two weeks in November 1821 in the house of the great poet on Frauenplan in Weimar. "Every morning I get a kiss from the author of Faust and Werther," wrote Felix to his father, "and every afternoon, two kisses from father and friend Göthe". The poet's famous words about the past first love as an initiation rite, a source of pain that will never be forgotten, were originally written for the second act of Goethe's unfinished opera libretto The unequal housemates and were inspired by the arias "Porgi amor" and "Dove sono" by Countess Almaviva in Figaro's wedding inspired by Mozart, which Goethe translated into German at the time. The twelve-year-old Felix took the setting of his sister Fanny's poem with him to Weimar and was to make one himself twenty years later, on August 9, 1841. This was published posthumously in 1852 together with five other songs as op. 99. The text illustrates the art form of Goethe's experiential poem. When Mendelssohn's lyrical self poses the rhetorical question “Oh! who brings back the beautiful days / those days of first love / [...]! ”repeated over and over again, the mixture of disbelief and resignation that lies in these words is put into sounds; the repetitions illustrate the way in which the memory evokes pain.

Friedrich von Schiller's (1759–1805) words by Girl's suit come from the third act of Piccolomini, the second piece in Schiller's Wallenstein trilogy. Max, the son of a confidante Wallenstein, Octavio Piccolomini, and Wallenstein's daughter Thekla fall in love despite the hostility between their families; In this famous lament, Thekla sings about her separation from Max. Schubert processed it three times (D. 6, D. 191 and D. 389, the second setting being the most famous), but Mendelssohn only set the words to music once; his harmoniously rich song was posthumously called in 1866 The Maiden’s Lament published in London.

The words of Ache gently in the breath of the evening air come from the poet Friedrich von Matthisson, who worked in the 18th century and whose poems were praised by Schiller for their melancholy loveliness and delicate descriptions of nature. Schubert set this poem to music in 1815 under the title of the poet, Death wreath for a child, and Mendelssohn's setting followed seven years later in December 1822. When we hear this song today, we are reminded that the infant mortality rate in the 18th and 19th centuries was unimaginably high — the statistics make you shudder. Towards the end of this sensitive and extensive setting, the influence of baroque music becomes clear when the inconsolable parents sing of wandering incessantly through the chaos of the world. Here the vocal line is held like a chorale-like cantus firmus, under which the piano part gradually sinks down into a hymn-like ending.

Wanderlied op. 57 No. 6 1 6 is a setting of one of the most famous and most graphic poems by Joseph von Eichendorff: Fresh ride from 1810. In this poet's world, centrifugal and centripetal forces pull the characters either closer to or away from God. Poets, seduced by the magic of nature in all its beauty and with its sensual pleasures, are in particular danger of moving towards their doom; here a figure, enticed by the shimmering beauty of spring, embarks on a journey that has no destination or end in mind. In Mendelssohn's beautiful setting, chromatic excursions allude to those other places that are yet to be discovered, and occasional darker touches indicate the dangers of the company. The forest castle, a setting Of the bold, is a gruesome example of romantic folklore with overtones and overtones of Eichendorff's distinctive religious meanings (he was a dogmatic Catholic). A bold hunter, in his pursuit of nature and sensuality, crosses the boundaries set by others; in his sinfulness he disappears from all conscious thinking and gets into the depths of the forest (that ancient symbol of the unconscious) when he declares himself committed to love. In this historicizing, quasi-medieval poem, Mendelssohn makes use of the “old German” music style, which, with its horn signals and dotted rhythms in the song repertoire of the 19th century, was associated with stories of knights and castles. Schumann's setting of It knows and nobody advises it from his song cycle op. 39 is widely known, but Mendelssohn also set this poem to music, possibly in September 1842, as a gift for Antonka Hiller, the beautiful and originally Polish singer who married the sociable composer and conductor Ferdinand Hiller (from 1825 a friend of Felix Mendelssohn) was. Eichendorff's poem was first published in the 14th chapter of the 2nd book of his novel Premonition and present published by 1815 and came after a scene in which the protagonist Friedrich has been hugged by the "boy" Erwin, who is actually a girl named Erwine who, like Mignon, dies young. Erwin, or Erwine, apparently sings the song to himself, but Friedrich listens in. Mendelssohn divides his wonderful setting of all four stanzas (Schumann only sets three) into a longing first part in minor, in which strong chromatic desire is expressed, and into a longer, brighter and more agitated part in major, in which she imagines herself as her flies in the sky. Your wish will soon be granted.

Charlotte to Werther, the text of which comes from William Frederick Collard, who was a partner in a London piano manufacturer, could have been written during Mendelssohn's first stay in London in 1829. Collard's poem is an imagined continuation of Goethe's Sorrows of young Werther, which appeared in 1774 when the author was himself in his twenties. Werther was an instant sensation: Napoleon praised it and for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein it was a mirror of his own rejection by those he loves. In letters to his friend Wilhelm, Werther describes his stay in Wahlheim, where he falls in love with the beautiful Lotte, who is engaged to an older man named Albert. Towards the end, when Werther and Lotte, now married, read the Ossian poems by the Scottish poet James Macpherson together, Werther can no longer contain himself and kisses her; “Trembling between love and anger, she said: This is the last time! Werther! You will not see me again ”. Shortly afterwards, Werther shoots himself with an Albert pistol. The Sorrows of young Werther have often been described as the artistic processing of the hopeless love of the young Goethe for the 19-year-old Charlotte Buff in 1772 when he was living in Wetzlar. However, the Goethe researcher Nicholas Boyle rightly pointed out that this novel rather deals with the dilemma of a generation of sensitive souls who believed that every artist should have ingenious skills similar to Prometheus. If they did not live up to this claim, they were devastated and fell to their deaths. The “editor”, who tells the end of Goethe's story, says “what was going on in Lotte's soul during this time [...] we hardly dare to express with words”. But Collard and others went all too quickly where the angels did not dare to go. Lotte's accusation (in Collard's) towards the young man of how he could bring himself to ruin such a good and pure heart is quite melodramatic, but Mendelssohn's expressive lament transforms the clumsy into beauty.

In Mendelssohn's time there was an old tradition among great composers of arranging folk songs — Haydn did it, and so did Beethoven. Just a few days before his nephew Felix Dirichlet died of complications from measles on November 17, 1838, Mendelssohn presented the contralto Mary Shaw (1814–1876) with his arrangement of a well-known Scottish folk song, "O dinna ask me" Scotch snap ”rhythm begins). It was very well received by the audience and the publisher Friedrich Kistner asked Mendelssohn for more Scottish songs. Despite the family grief, Mendelssohn delivered five more songs in December and the total of six songs were together in February 1839 as Six Scottish National Songs published, but without mentioning Mendelssohn's name. The Romantic interest in everything Celtic also fed the home industry of translations of Sir Walter Scott's works into German; in fact, Mendelssohn's setting of the Ave Mariawhich is based on Scott's verse epic The Lady of the Lake based (and translated by Adam Storck) five years before Schubert wrote his famous song Ellen's Singing III, D. 839, composed. Schubert knew the context of Scott's story, in which Roderick Dhu, the head of the Alpine clan, fell madly in love with Ellen Douglas and overheard her singing for the Virgin Mary accompanied by the harp. The eleven-year-old Mendelssohn, however, brought Bach and Handel into his song, which has an almost spiritual character, and based it on a striding bass in octaves. Rest, warriors! War is over was also used by Schubert as Ellen's Singing I., D. 837, set to music; in Scott's epic, Ellen casts a spell over King James V (1512–1542) in disguise with this soothing, siren-like song when he stumbles through the Douglas clan's hiding place. Schubert's Rondolied is a masterpiece of enchanting complexity; He was in his mid-twenties and therefore much older than Mendelssohn, who treated a shortened version of the poem without the last four verses in a much simpler, more robust and folksong-like manner.

This is followed by a song that is particularly characteristic of Mendelssohn - the strophic structure, the warmth, the loveliness and the subtle details are the typical characteristics for which the composer is famous in the field of the song. The Folk song is a setting of a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns ("The Plowman Poet" or "The Bard of Ayrshire") in the German translation by Ferdinand Freiligrath, who was famous in his time for his political and nationalistic poems. Mendelssohn's duet setting of this text, Op. 63 No. 5, is widely known, but the composer also made solo versions of the song; one was written in 1842 and the other at Christmas 1845 for his wife Cécile's songbook.

With his Minnelong op. 47 No. 1 2 1, which was published in 1839, Mendelssohn turned to the poetry of Ludwig Tieck, who was one of the grandfathers of German Romanticism. The poem is a compliment from a lover to his beloved, which surpasses the beauty of spring and summer. The list of the charms of nature begins with a comparison with a flowing brook and Mendelssohn took the opportunity to create a slightly chromatic babbling brook in the piano part against the background of the spring-like key of A major (the same key in which The bouquet op. 47 No. 5, Sunday song op. 34 No. 5 and O youth, oh beautiful rose season! op. 57 No. 4), which has been transposed to F major for the present recording for the baritone part. The forest rustles, the spring leaps is an undated setting of another Tieck poem with the title "Der Junggesell". The poem first celebrates nature and romantic wanderlust before a modulation to a protest against poverty and the difficulties of getting a divorce takes place, all of which is jokingly expressed, which today is perhaps referred to as "male fear of attachment" would denote. Mendelssohn ignores the sociological element in the middle and composes an extremely lively, nature-loving song full of mountain goat-like jumps and ornate exuberance for the singer.

The next three songs are linked by their poetic content and the mutual musical echoes. In question, to whom a poem by Mendelssohn's friend and teacher Johann Gustav Droysen, who called himself “J. N. Voss “states that all the emotions that most people feel when they realize that their love for someone else may actually be reciprocated are expressed on just one side. “Is it true?” We ask, and not just once: the lyrical self in Mendelssohn uses the same words to alternately express doubt, a little fear, urgency and loveliness. Mendelssohn studied composition with Carl Friedrich Zelter, as did the actor, baritone and theater reformer Eduard Devrient, who provided Mendelssohn with the lyrics for the following song: confession. (Devrient sang the role of Christ in Mendelssohn's performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1829.) This song continues a lover's questions. It starts with the same three-tone question in the singing voice as before, but here the temperature is higher than before. The cliché that Mendelssohn was supposed to have been the cool, classic supporter of abstract values ​​is once again called into question with the violent expressivity of this song. As many shades of infatuation as a young, desperate gush can imagine can be imagined on a single page. The familiar words “Is it true?” Recur in the next song; On, restless, breathless sets a corresponding pace, since the beloved "Maria" from the confession is now charged with fraud. The love story, which began with that shy, passionate question two songs ago, now ends in despair.

The Christmas carol was composed in 1832 as a Christmas present for his younger sister Rebecka Henriette (1811-1858), who married a mathematician named Peter Dirichlet in May of the same year. Mendelssohn also sent this work to the theologian Albert Bauer on December 20, 1832. Bauer had praised Mendelssohn's reconstruction of Bach's St. Matthew Passion, and this awe-inspiring Christmas carol, which in part develops over a Bach-like ostinato, was tailor-made for him, so to speak. Mendelssohn found the text in the 54 Spiritual odes and songs of the pietistic Leipzig philosopher Christian Fürchtegott Gellert. These texts, in which religiosity is combined with enlightening rationalism, were very popular among composers, including Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (who set this text to music as a cantata) and Beethoven.

Of all your tender gifts- the poet of this song has not yet been identified - was written on 18.September 1822 during a family vacation in Switzerland; Mendelssohn was to return there three more times later. This is a strophic song and Mendelssohn only wrote down the text of the first stanza, but apparently wanted to have sung the remaining stanzas as well. Since the original poem has not survived in its entirety, Waldemar Weinheimer wrote two more stanzas, which sing about May as a hymn and which are just as lovely and musical as the first stanza. The Lullaby, in which a graceful modulation from E major to C major takes place in the middle, was composed on the same day. It is also strophic and here too the poet is unknown and again Waldemar Weinheimer wrote two more stanzas to round off the song. One can hear that Mendelssohn used largely the same musical ideas in these two songs, such as the flowing parallel thirds, linear chromatic passages and a similar andante loveliness that prevails in both songs, although each verse of the spring song ends with a surge of joy.

In his dark, dramatic song Four cloudy moons have passed away Mendelssohn only set the first three stanzas of Ludwig Hölty's "Song of a Girl on the Death of Her Playmate" to music. It is unclear when the song was composed, as the autograph has not yet been found. Louis Weissenborn copied this work together with I look into the night crying, Expectation and Love and silence. Four cloudy moons was published in 1882 by the composer Carl Reinecke (the teacher of Edvard Grieg, Leoš Janácek, Max Bruch and others). The present version is based on the Weissendorn manuscript.

Love and silence was created in 1840 or 1841 as a present for a friend, the Bible researcher Konstantin von Tischendorf, who discovered a version of the Septuagint in a heap of rubbish near a monastery on Mount Sinai, which for a time was the oldest surviving version. His only volume of poetry, the May buds from 1838, is a bit colorless, but one feels pity for the lover in this poem, who, as a typical shy academic, never declares his love. Mendelssohn gives him lovely and eloquent music to express what he otherwise could not express. Suleika is the setting of a famous poem by Marianne von Willemer (née Jung), who was adopted by a Frankfurt businessman and who became his third wife in 1814. The couple visited Goethe in Wiesbaden and the great poet, who immediately felt drawn to Marianne, visited her later in 1814 and then again in August and September 1815. Although Goethe and Marianne never saw each other again after that, they corresponded with each other until Goethe died and her poems as "Suleika" to his "Hatem" were in the West-Eastern Divan (1819) by the great poet, whose source of inspiration was the works of the Persian poet Hafiz of Shiraz from the 14th century. Marianne's poems appeared as if Goethe had written them himself. The actual authorship was only revealed a few years before Marianne's death in 1860, so Mendelssohn had to assume that this was a poem by the world-famous genius and not by one of his most gifted muses. This undated setting is very different from the published setting, Op. 34 No. 4, a nimble work driven by the joyous energy of love. Here the song begins with a short rising and swelling figure in the piano part, which beautifully depicts both the movement of the wind and the increasing passion.

So sleep in peace! As we can see from a copy by Cécile Mendelssohn's sister Julie Jeanrenaud, was composed on March 22, 1838 and is a setting of a poem by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who was famous for both his revolutionary poems and his children's songs. No cannons can be heard in this gentle lullaby; in the chorus you can almost see the eyelids slowly drop until the child falls asleep. The Boyar death song comes from the 5th scene of the 5th act of Boyars—The first piece of the Alexis-Trilogy (1832) by Karl Leberecht Immermann, who fought against Napoleon in Waterloo. (Boyars were aristocrats who owned serfs and were second only to the royal family in the hierarchy of Slavic society from the 10th to the 17th centuries.) The older writer and the younger composer had come together to discuss possible collaboration in the field to discuss the opera; if the Alexis-Stoff did not inspire Mendelssohn to compose an opera, so he wrote this song a few years later, on October 13, 1841. The result is perhaps the coolest, most distant two sides of Mendelssohn's oeuvre. But this is not surprising: in the piece it is sung by the boyars Stephan Gleboff, Basilius Dolgoruki and Abraham Lapuchin while they are waiting for their execution for treason against the Tsar (Peter the Great) (the trilogy focuses on Peter's only son, Alexei or Alexis, who was tortured and killed on Peter's orders in 1718).

Expectation is one of the songs copied by Louis Weissenborn and edited by Carl Reinecke in 1882. It is also shrouded in mystery: it is unclear when it was composed, on what occasion and who the poet could be. This lament in E minor by a woman whose lover has left is so beautiful that one would like to know more about it. (Mendelssohn seems to have preferred this key for mournful songs - something like that Why are the roses so pale?, gloss, Sleepless eyes light and Winter song, as well as The forest castle and the .) All three stanzas end with a muted plagal cadenza in the parallel major key in the piano part, which perhaps expresses the inner longing for a happy end to their grief or the fulfillment of the wish for his return. And the wind scatters over you