Hyperion Records

Der Tamboursg'sell
First line:
Ich armer Tamboursg'sell
August 1901; subsequently published as No 2 of Lieder (also called Sieben Lieder aus letzter Zeit)
author of text
Des Knaben Wunderhorn

'Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn' (CDA67645)
Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67645 

Der Tamboursg'sell
There is, however, no mistaking the composer of Der Tamboursg’sell. Like its companion-piece Revelge it is constructed on a far bigger scale than the other songs, as much inspired by, as generative of, the great Trauermarsch of the fifth symphony, which it closely resembles. As we have seen it was also composed some years later than the other Wunderhorn songs, at a time when Mahler was moving towards the other great literary influence on his composition, Friedrich Rückert. For the whole first part its texture is unremittingly spare and bleak, consisting of little more than a dirge-like groan and a riffle of drums. But the interlude that follows gives birth to a wholly unexpected and deeply moving melody, as the doomed drummer bids farewell to the world. Such a valedictory lament is of course not without precedent in Mahler’s songs—the last song of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, for instance, is a funeral march, and the early song Zu Straßburg auf der Schanz also tells of a young soldier condemned to hang. But this passage has a greater significance in the development of Mahler’s compositional style. As the Mahler scholar Donald Mitchell has perceptively noted, the long drawn out melody, with its canonic second voice, sustained over a simple tonic–dominant bass, bears more than a passing resemblance to part of the first song of Kindertotenlieder, Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgehn. So this song, composed at the very cusp of Mahler’s transition from Wunderhorn to Rückert mode, manages to combine elements of both. It was Mahler’s own farewell to the world of Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

from notes by Roger Vignoles 2008

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