Friday, March 11, 2005

Mahler: Ich hab' ein glühend Messer

Mahler: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen 3. Ich hab' ein glühend Messer

This song is intense..and I kind of just stumbled upon it and now I want to learn it…
It is from the song cycle Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) by Mahler. It is a completely depressing song. The text is translated:

I have a gleaming knife in my breast.
Woe is me, woe is me! It cuts so deep
Into every joy and pleasure,
So deep, so deep!
Ah, what a cruel guest to harbour!
It never grants me peace,
Never grants me rest,
Neither by day nor by night when I would sleep.
Woe is me, woe is me!

When I look into the heavens
I see her two eyes of blue there.
Woe is me, woe is me!
When I go into the golden fields,
From afar I see her fair hair blowing in the breeze.
Woe is me, woe is me!
When I start to wake up from my dreams
And hear the peal of her silvery laughter,
Woe is me, woe is me!
I would that I lay upon my sable bier,
Never again to open my eyes!

Basically what is going on is the love of this guys life is getting married to someone else, so the pain in his heart is comparable to being stabbed in the chest. The music in this A section is extremely agitated, and is made that way because of the dynamics, the stress increasing on the notes as they arpeggiate upward filling in the texture and each instrument is brought in. The vocal part is extremely intense covering more than an octave in the first phrase. One thing Mahler does which sounds cool is that he has the voice start on the leading tone. Swells in dynamics and emphasis on the “woe is me” to really make it sound as if he is being tortured. Wonderfully full..minor…loud….high…and overall GREAT!!!

In the B section he can dream of the times when he thought he had a chance and she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The music gets soft and very trance-like. There isn’t much motion in the voice part and when there is there is this cool leaping system that he is using to kind of paint a picture of hope for the mind. First leap is from G to C… next is G to D flat…this gives a lifting feeling thinking that everything is getting better but then on the “woe is me” it goes E flat to D…then C to B a since of failure and weeping. There comes a point where there is an accidental that really give you a twitch where you know he is waking up and the pain will be shown all over again…And the A section comes back in to finish the song off….


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