Friday, 31 October 2014

Lieder for Halloween - Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelsson's Halloween Lieder, Hexenlied to a poem by Ludwig Hõlty.

Ein schwarzer Bock, Ein Besenstock, 
Die Ofengabel, der Wocken,
Reißt uns geschwind, Wie Blitz und Wind, 
Durch sausende Lüfte zum Brocken! 
Um Beelzebub Tanzt unser Trupp
Und küßt ihm die kralligen Hände! 
Ein Geisterschwarm Faßt uns beim Arm
 Und schwinget im Tanzen die Brände!

(Armed with pitchforks, broomsticks, and black goats the witches fly through a ragingb thunderstorm up high to the mountain heath of Brocken. They dance round Beelzebub and kiss his cloven hoofs. Witches and the ghosts dance together waving firebrands, )

Strictly speaking the song refers to Walpurgisnacht, the night before May 1st when the witches of the world converge on Brocken mountain to worship the devil in an orgy. Hence the original title of the poem "Anderes Maienlied", an alternative to the usual Mailieds which focus on the coming of spring, purity, innocence, maidens with flowers etc. Witches party, too.  Below, my favourite version of the song. The pianist is Karl Engel pounding the ivories with manic glee. A delicious mix of lusciousness and tension in Peter Schreier's singing. .The photo above is a 1930's card of Brocken Mountain showing the modern tourist hotel, encircled by witches. Note the naked maidens.


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