Complete Series: 3770
Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
The University Musical Society
The University of Michigan
THE MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA
STANISLAW SKROWACZEWSKI, Conductor
University Choral Union, Donald Bryant, Director
Phyllis Curtin, Soprano John Stewart, Tenor
Maureen Forrester, Contralto Brent Ellis, Baritone
Sunday Evening, April 9, 1972, at 8:30 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
"Das klagende Lied".............Mahler
Waldmarchen (Forest Tale) Der Spiclmann (The Minstrel) Hochzeitsstiick (Wedding Piece)
Phyllis Curtin, Maureen Forrester, John Stewart, Brent Ellis, and tiie University Choral Union
"Romeo and Juliet," Dramatic Symphony, Op. 17 (Orchestral Excerpts) . Berlioz
Queen Mab Scherzo
Romeo Alone; Sadness; Concert and Ball; Festivities at the Capulets
The Minnesota Orchestra has appeared on eight previous occasions in Hill Auditorium as the Min?neapolis Symphony Orchestra.
Tenth Concert Ninetythird Annual Choral Union Series Complete Programs 3770
by Mary Ann Feldman
"Das klagende Lied".............Mahler
In "Das klagende Lied," drafted before his twentieth birthday, Mahler followed in the foot?steps of his idol Wagner by writing his own verses. The model was ancient ballad style. He based his musical fairytale on the gruesome legend of the singing bone, which he knew from the stories of Bechstein and Grimm. In the Grimm version, which Mahler adopted, two brothers compete for the hand of a queen who can be won only by the bearer of a rare red flower. The younger finds the blossom, but is slain in his sleep by his rival. One day a minstrel carves a flute from a bone he has found in the forest; when he plays upon it, it magically relates the horrible murder. When the bride?groom himself defies the bone by putting it to his lips at his wedding feast, the flute reveals the secret of the grave to all.
Waldmdrchen (Forest Tale): From the outset, the seeds of Mahler's style are sown, not only for this opus but for his first four symphonies as well. Horn fanfares, with their imprint of triplets, the relentless beating of drum fourths, the wavering between major and minor--all these are hall?marks of Mahler as symphonist. As the brothers undertake their quest for the crimson flower, tenor and bass share the narration while the chorus interjects a woeful refrain. When the plot deepens, the music intensifies, and all the forces--soprano and alto as well as choir--are absorbed into the mingling of lyric and dramatic elements.
The drama determines the structure of the music. After the younger knight has plucked the flower and stretched out to rest (a descending line suggests the action), there is a natural break in the story, filled by an orchestral "sleep" interlude in which divisi violins present a voluptuous song in thirds.
As night draws near, the elder brother searches frantically for the magic flower, and the pace quickens. Horn calls, "as if from a distance," along with woodwind figures, bring the soprano's hopeless plea to the nightingale to rouse the sleeping knight. Mahler's distillation of Wagnerian ideas is vented in the powerful motive (a rising chordal sequence at the words "a sword of steel") that spans the murder scene. A striking contrast is drawn between the sinister laughter of the killer and the peaceful reverie of his victim, etched in the falling melismas of an alto phrase. Low voice also declaims the epilogue's apostrophe to the wind and leaves. A quiet fanfare of fifths intoned by trumpets and trombones haunts the waning bars.
Der Spielmann (The Minstrel): A stabbing tremolo launches the orchestral prologue. Though it revolves upon a stream of motives, its core is the minstrel theme, unfolded in violin octaves to the piquant ring of the triangle, whose foundation, in turn, is the inexorable marching that had pervaded the prelude to the first part. Rounding off the introduction is a burst of forest sounds, as piccolo, flute and oboe mime the songs of birds over swaying accompaniment of clarinets and divisi violas.
The alto reviews the fate of the murdered knight. A grieving motive--a plaintive minor second --echoes the word "buried"; you will hear the sigh of octave flutes. The minstrel's tune, jaunty but nervous, rolls upon the nowfamiliar drum fourths. Suspense mounts to the choral address, "Ah minstrel, wand'ring minstrel dear," as he shapes a flute from the bone. The crisis comes when he places the instrument to his lips: a thrusting phrase is called out by alto. In the wake of this stanza is another orchestral interlude, wreathed in shimmering figurations, birdcalls and a pastoral horn theme.
The chilling history proceeds, juxtaposing woodland images with violence. The climax, "My brother slew me," again summons the grief motive from the flutes. The concluding orchestral sec?tion stresses the minstrel tune, as he wanders far and wide with his tale. The choral finale is a reprise of the foreboding mood of the overture. The tumult ebbs upon a soft cry of sorrow, "O Leide, weh!"
Hochzeilsstiick (WeddingPiece): Driving rhythms and gleaming brass strike the festivities of Part III; the wedding feast is in progress, its doom prophesied in the Wagnerian theme thundered by trumpets. An exhilarating chorus describes the glitterinc festivities in the castle. With the appear?ance of the pallid bridegroom, aloof from the merrymaking, tempo, rhythm and texture change. The alto's brooding queries culminate in the sight of the minstrel at the threshold. A tapestry of motives builds to his grim revelation. Embedded in his story (how ironic the title "Weddingpiece" seems at the crux of this movement!) is the choral lament. Massed voices excitedly report the leap of the king from his throne to test the flute himself.
At the peak of the drama, hard upon the frenzied music and the noisy vulgarity of the distant band, the soprano voices the dead brother's accusations; her surging vocal line expresses the horror of the singing bone's indictment. The bride faints, the guests flee, and the castle walls crumble. Finally the epilogue announces that all the lights are now extinguished in the palace. Only sorrow remains. A savage fortissimo chord seals the dying echoes of the catastrophe.
English translation by Jack Diether Forest Tale
There was a proud and stately queen, Of beauty without measure; Xo knight within her favor stood, All shared her great displeasure.
Ah woe, thou fair young lady bold!
To whom dost thou thy charms unfold
A flower lovely as the queen
Did grow in a forest shady;
The knight who could the flower find
Might win the royal lady.
Ah woe, thou proud and stately queen!
When will it break, thy haughty mien
Two brothers came into the wood,
The flower to discover,
The younger fair and of gentle mood,
And envyblacken'd the other. O knight, my evilomen'd knight, 0 turn away thy hateful spite!
When they had gone a little pace, They ceas'd to walk together, And now in search began to race, Through forest, field and heather. My hasty knight, with darting eyes, Who now shall find the costly prize
The young search'd through wood and lea, And had not long been seeking, When saw he, by a willow tree,
Through grass the flower peeking. He pluck'd and stuck it in his cap, Then stretch'd he out to take a nap.
Th other comb'd through crag and rill, In vain through the heather peering, And as the sun sank behind the hill, He came to the grassy clearing. Ah woe, whom there he sleeping scann'd, The flower in his cap, in green hue'd band!
Thou rapturebringing nightingale, And redbreast, thy long vigil keeping, Methinks thy singing should prevail To wake the poor knight sleeping. Thou blossom red in sleeper's cap, Thou shinest forth indeed like blood!
His eye doth gleam in frenzy wide,
To wilder mood replying;
A sword of steel hangs by his side,
To which his hand goes flying.
The elder laughs 'neath willow tree, The younger dreameth blissfully.
Ye leaves there, why hang ye with
Great tears ye might be shedding! Ye winds there, why waft ye regretfully so, Your rustle and whisper spreading
In woods, by a grassy pillow,
There grows a weeping willow.
By willow cool, in firry wood, Where jackdaws and ravens hover, There lies a knight both fair and good, Whom the leaves and the blossoms o'ercover. 'Tis mild and fill'd with fragrance there, And sounds like weeping fill the air! O sorrow, sorrow!
A minstrel's steps to the clearing did lead,
A glist'ning bone there did stay him;
He carv'd it out, as 'twere a reed,
A goodly flute to essay him.
Ah minstrel, wand'ring minstrel dear, Strange is the music you will hear! O sorrow, woe! O sorrow!
The minstrel put it to his mouth, And set it loudly ringing; What magic then did issue out,
What strange and doleful singing! So sad it sounded, and yet so fair, Who heard might die of sorrow there! O sorrow, sorrow!
"Ah minstrel, wand'ring minstrel dear,
Lament must I unto thee;
For a finecolor'd flow'ret here
My brother rashly slew me.
My bleaching bones in forest hide, My brother woos a fair young bride!" O sorrow, sorrow. Woe !
The minstrel took it far and near,
The doleful song essaying.
"Ah woe, ah woe, ye people dear!
What think ye on my playing Away must I to the kingly hall, Away to the beauteous queen of us all!" O sorrow, woe! O sorrow!
On rocky summit the castle gleams, The trumpets resound from their stations; With knightly followers bold it teems, And ladies with gold decorations.
What tokens this gladdening, joyful recall
What glitters and shines in kingly hall O rapture, heyho! Rapture!
And know'st thou not, wherefore this rouse Ho, that can I truly say: The queen exchangeth marriage vows With yon youthful knight today.
See there, behold the stately queen!
Now will it break, her haughty mien! O rapture, heyho! Rapture!
Why is the bridegroom so pale and cow'd, Hears not the shouts of pleasure, Sees not the guests so rich and proud, The queen in her stately measure Why is the bridegroom so cow'd and pale What casts upon his mind this veil
A minstrel steps 'fore the portal wide!
What showeth he the guests inside O sorrow, sorrow! Woe!
"Ah minstrel, wand'ring minstrel dear, Lament must I unto thee;
For a finecolor'd flow'ret there
My brother rashly slew me.
My bleaching bones in forest hide, My brother woos a fair young bride!" O sorrow! Woe, o sorrow!
The king leaps up from his royal chair And strides through the wedding crowd; Then takes the flute with a withering glare And plays it clearly and loud.
O horror! What is now convey'd
Hear'st thou the tidings undismay'd
"Ah brother, dearest brother lost,
'Twas thou my life didst sever;
Now playest Ihou on my bone, that must
Lamenting sing forever.
Why hast thou my youth unfinish'd To somber death diminish'd" 0 sorrow, woe! O sorrow!
The queen sinks down insensately, The drums and the trumpets are humble; In horror the knights and their ladies flee, The ancient ramparts crumble.
The lights in the kingly hall have ceas'd!
What now remains of the wedding feast Ah sorrow!
"Romeo and Juliet," Dramatic Symphony, Op. 17 (Excerpts) . . . Berlioz Mr. Skrowaczewski presents the following three episodes:
Love Scene: "If you ask me which of my works I prefer, my answer is that of most artists: the love scene in 'Romeo and Juliet,'" Berlioz said of the most passionate episode of all; he entrusts it to a stream of orchestral melody. The nocturnal serenity of the Capulets' garden is felt in the hushed bars that preface the first tender theme, spun by muted violas and cellos. But it is the outbreak of a glowing strain from cellos that brings the love song that will thread the movement like a refrain.
Queen Mab Scherzo: In a letter to the poet Heine, Berlioz sketched the images that underlie this swift interlude, a wispy pianissimo almost throughout: "Queen Mab in her microscopic car, attended by the buzzing insects of a summer's night and launched at full gallop by her tiny horses, fully displayed to the Brunswick public her lovely drollery and her thousand caprices. But you will understand my anxiety on this subject; for you the poet of fairies and elves, the own brother of those graceful and malicious little creatures, know only too well with what slender thread their veil of gauze is woven, and how serene must be the sky beneath which their manycolored tints sport freely in the pale starlight."
Romeo Alone--Sadness--Concert and Ball--Festivities at the Capulets: Sighing recitative by violins delineates the lonely figure of Romeo; his reverie is marked "melancholy and sustained." From the distance a fragment of dance music interrupts his solitude. The orchestra subsides to shimmering stillness for what may signal his first glimpse of Juliet; the oboe vents a radiant theme to a background of plucked arpeggios in the cellos.
The excitement of the ball mounts in glittering dance music. At its apex you will hear the Juliet theme intoned in long notes by trombone and woodwinds from within the celebration. The revelry whirls on to yet another feverish climax, broken only by Romeo's plaint (in the oboe) that is momentarily indulged before the heady finish.