Saturday, 4 December 2010
Die beiden Grenardiere
Another in my sort-of series of soldier songs. Richard Tauber sings Schumann's Die beiden Grenadiere op 49/1. This appeals to me because Tauber's voice doesn't necessarily evoke big butch Grenadiers, but it's lovely here, especially in the final strophes where he lets rip with the Marsellaise reference. Two soldiers from Napoleon's army walk back towards France after the defeat in Russia. They're desolate. Wie brennt meine alte Wunde!, one of them cries. The other's more sanguine, he wants to get back to his wife and kids. The first one's inspired "What do wife and children matter. Let them go beg! Mein Kaiser, mein Kaiser gefangen! A different perspective. He knows he's dying but wants his corpse to be carried back to France and buried with military honours.
Dann reitet mein Kaiser wohl über mein Grab,
Viel Schwerter klirren und blitzen;
Dann steig ich gewaffnet hervor aus dem Grab -
Den Kaiser, den Kaiser zu schützen!
Loyalty beyond death and reason, but at least he has a dream. Because the poem's Heine, expect a degree of irony,which Schumann picks up on, with jaunty introduction and rousing finale. Below is Ernst Busch's take on the Soviet Song The Sacred War. When we moan about winter, think how else it could be.