Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Der Spielmann Schumann

Schumann Der Spielmann (op 40/4) to a text by Adelbert von Chamisso, a contemporary poet, who'd died just two years before Schumann made the setting.

At first, it seems idyllic. At a village wedding, wine is flowing, everyone is dancing, and the piano sings merrily. But look closer ! Die Braut nur gleicht dem getünchten Tod..The bride's frozen with deathly pallor. The one she loves is there, but he's not the bridegroom.

Er streichelt die Geige, sein Haar ergraut, Es schwingen die Saiten gellend und laut,Er drückt sie ans Herz und achtet es nicht, Ob auch sie in tausend Stücke zerbricht. Someone is playing a fiddle,so fiercely and wildly, he doesn't care if it breaks into a thousand pieces.  The melody is rousing but the young fiddler's hair is turning grey. "It breaks my heart to see one die like this!" cries the singer.

Then the real horror. The fiddler sees a ghostly hand clawing at him. Wer heißt euch mit Fingern zeigen auf mich? And he, too, freezes. O Gott - bewahr uns gnädiglich, Dass  keinen der Wahnsinn übermannt. Oh God, protect me from this madness! Psychic dissociation. I'm not really here, I'm not part of the party, I'm not the heartbroken lover, I can't cope with the bride's grief.  

Bin selber ein armer Musikant. I'm just a jobbing musician.

What a song for Schumann to set on the eve of his marriage to Clara.

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