Hyperion Records

Gedichte von Eduard Mörike
26 November 1888
author of text

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No 01: Der Genesene an die Hoffnung  Tödlich graute mir der Morgen
No 02: Der Knabe und das Immlein  Im Weinberg auf der Höh
No 03: Ein Stündlein wohl vor Tag  Derweil ich schlafend lag
No 04: Jägerlied  Zierlich ist des Vogels Tritt im Schnee
No 05: Der Tambour  Wenn meine Mutter hexen könnt’
No 06: Er ists  Frühling lässt sein blaues Band
No 07: Das verlassene Mägdlein  Früh, wann die Hähne krähn
No 08: Begegnung  Was doch heut nacht ein Sturm gewesen
No 09: Nimmersatte Liebe  So ist die Lieb! So ist die Lieb!
No 10: Fussreise  Am frischgeschnittnen Wanderstab
No 11: An eine Äolsharfe  Angelehnt an die Efeuwand
No 12: Verborgenheit  Lass, o Welt, o lass mich sein!
No 13: Im Frühling  Hier lieg ich auf dem Frühlingshügel
No 14: Agnes  Rosenzeit! Wie schnell vorbei
No 15: Auf einer Wanderung  In ein freundliches Städtchen tret ich ein
No 16: Elfenlied  Bei Nacht im Dorf der Wächter rief
No 17: Der Gärtner  Auf ihrem Leibrösslein
No 18: Zitronenfalter im April  Grausame Frühlingssonne
No 19: Um Mitternacht  Gelassen stieg die Nacht ans Land
No 20: Auf eine Christblume I  Tochter des Walds, du Lilienverwandte
No 21: Auf eine Christblume II  Im Winterboden schläft, ein Blumenkeim
No 22: Seufzer  Dein Liebesfeuer
No 23: Auf ein altes Bild  In grüner Landschaft Sommerflor
No 24: In der Frühe  Kein Schlaf noch kühlt das Auge mir
No 25: Schlafendes Jesuskind  Sohn der Jungfrau, Himmelskind! am Boden
No 26: Karwoche  O Woche, Zeugin heiliger Beschwerde!
No 27: Zum neuen Jahr  Wie heimlicher Weise
No 28: Gebet  Herr, schicke was du willt
No 29: An den Schlaf  Schlaf! süsser Schlaf! obwohl dem Tod
No 30: Neue Liebe  Kann auch ein Mensch des andern auf der Erde
No 31: Wo find ich Trost?  Eine Liebe kenn ich, die ist treu
No 32: An die Geliebte  Wenn ich, von deinem Anschaun tief gestillt
No 33: Peregrina I  Der Spiegel dieser treuen, braunen Augen
No 34: Peregrina II  Warum, Geliebte, denk ich dein
No 35: Frage und Antwort  Fragst du mich, woher die bange
No 36: Lebe wohl  Lebe wohl! – Du fühlest nicht
No 37: Heimweh  Anders wird die Welt mit jedem Schritt
No 38: Lied vom Winde  Sausewind, Brausewind!
No 39: Denk es, o Seele!  Ein Tännlein grünet wo
No 40: Der Jäger  Drei Tage Regen fort und fort
No 41: Rat einer Alten  Bin jung gewesen
No 42: Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens  Was im Netze! Schau einmal
No 43: Lied eines Verliebten  In aller Früh, ach, lang vor Tag
No 44: Der Feuerreiter  Sehet ihr am Fensterlein
No 45: Nixe Binsefuss  Des Wassermanns sein Töchterlein
No 46: Gesang Weylas  Du bist Orplid, mein Land!
No 47: Die Geister am Mummelsee  Vom Berge was kommt dort um Mitternacht spät
No 48: Storchenbotschaft  Des Schäfers sein Haus und das steht auf zwei Rad
No 49: Zur Warnung  Einmal nach einer lustigen Nacht
No 50: Auftrag  In poetischer Epistel
No 51: Bei einer Trauung  Vor lauter hochadligen Zeugen
No 52: Selbstgeständnis  Ich bin meiner Mutter einzig Kind
No 53: Abschied  Unangeklopft ein Herr tritt abends bei mir ein

Gedichte von Eduard Mörike
For any lover of Hugo Wolf the Mörike Lieder must have a special value. Apart from being the first of the great songbooks on which his reputation so firmly rests, they are the songs in which he discovered his true voice, and in which he developed and refined the techniques that would mark him out as a highly original master of the Lied. Yet the inspiration for these songs was slow in coming. In May 1887, stricken with grief at the death of his father, Wolf had withdrawn to the village of Perchtoldsdorf, now a suburb of Vienna. For over eight months he did not write a single note; but in the meantime he began to immerse himself in the verses of Eduard Mörike, a poet he had so far only set to music in a pair of songs. Significantly, one of these, the exquisite Mausfallensprüchlein, is perhaps alone among Wolf’s early songs in anticipating the achievements of the mature composer. Finally, on 16 February 1888, he returned to Mörike with another of his humorous character-pieces, Der Tambour. It was a relatively modest beginning, but six days later he completed three more songs—Der Knabe und das Immlein, Ein Stündlein wohl vor Tag and Jägerlied—and knew that the dam had finally broken.

That day he wrote ecstatically to his friend Edmund Lang: ‘My cheeks glow with excitement like molten iron, and this state of happiness is more like a rapturous torture than unadulterated happiness’. For once the clichéd expression ‘white heat of inspiration’ is totally accurate, for the songs now poured from his pen at an astonishing rate. No fewer than twenty-five were composed in the month between 22 February and 23 March, and all fifty-three were completed by 26 November. With delight and characteristically ironic hyperbole, he would announce the arrival of each day’s masterpiece to his friends, only to take it back the following day. So on 20 March he wrote to Lang: ‘Today, immediately after my arrival, I composed my masterpiece. Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens is by far the best thing I have done. In comparison to this, all the earlier songs are child’s play.’ Yet the very next day we find him writing: ‘I take back my claim that Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens is my finest song, for what I wrote this morning, Fussreise, is a million times better’. Of the whole collection, only one song took more than a day to compose—Auf einer Wanderung, which he began on 11 March and finished on 15 March. In between, however, he had produced another eight songs: the two just mentioned plus Verborgenheit, Gebet, Selbstgeständnis, Rat einer Alten, Begegnung and Lied eines Verliebten. Considering the speed with which the Mörike songs were written, their confidence and lucidity is breathtaking. It is impossible to play or sing them without sharing in the composer’s enthusiasm, or remembering his words: ‘My cheeks glow with excitement like molten iron’. These are songs that glow on the page.

Wolf was of course in no doubt of what he owed to Mörike, to whose portrait he gave pride of place as the frontispiece of the first edition. He insisted that his songs should be given the title Gedichte von Eduard Mörike, and to turn the pages of this collection is to enter Mörike’s world, but transmuted so magically into music that both text and music seem to be infused with the same light. As the great Wolf scholar Eric Sams put it, ‘Wolf often sounds as if Mörike had been reborn as a musician’. Images of light and colour abound; there are constant references to musical sounds, to harps and bells (Auf einer Wanderung, In der Frühe), often of gold or silver (the word ‘gold’ is a favourite of Mörike’s). Many of the poems take place at special times of day or night, either in the early morning (Das verlassene Mägdlein, Begegnung)—Wolf is particularly good at evoking the cold light of dawn—at sunset (Auf einer Wanderung) or at midnight (Um Mitternacht, Die Geister am Mummelsee). Then there is a whole gallery of quasi-folkloric portraits: lovelorn youths and maidens, gardeners and princesses, hunters, elves and spirits, all appealing to Wolf’s sense of humour and characterisation. Last but not least, there are the poems of a more personal, introspective nature, whether spiritual (Neue Liebe, Wo find ich Trost) or erotic (Peregrina I and II, Lebe wohl), whose often tortured broodings find an echo in Wolf’s own psyche and in his description of their effect on him—‘rapturous torment’.

The significance of Wolf’s new-found musical language rests above all on two key developments. The first is his ability to inflect the vocal line with an unprecedented freedom, giving great naturalness to the vocal delivery. Implicit in this is the other essential development, which gives the piano part far greater independence, and a crucial responsibility not only for the musical structure, but for much of its melodic content. In this Wolf was much influenced by Wagner whose famous ‘symphonic web’ stands in much the same relationship to his vocal lines. Not surprisingly, the pianist in these songs is often required to conjure up a formidable array of orchestral sounds, from the brooding double basses that open the very first song Der Genesene an die Hoffnung to the cataclysmic tutti of Der Feuerreiter. The sensuous appeal of Mörike’s verse, and its often mythic imagery, awakened the Wagnerian in Wolf, inspiring him to add to the established Lieder-vocabulary of Schubert and Schumann his own stratum of cross-references, whether to Parsifal, Meistersinger, Rhinegold or Götterdämmerung.

Two other features of this musical language are worth mentioning. One is Wolf’s ability to develop an entire song, especially the accompaniment, from one musical motif. This can be anything from the tiniest of cells to a longer phrase, but the effect is invariably to give unity and coherence to an apparently free-flowing train of thought. The other is his harmonic colouring. For a late-Romantic composer, Wolf in the Mörike songs is often remarkably diatonic, finding an extraordinary number of ways to deploy simple triadic progressions, as in the bell sounds already mentioned, the harp-like arpeggios of An eine Äolsharfe or the prayerful harmonies of Gebet and An die Geliebte. When appropriate he can resort to Wagnerian chromaticism with the best, but it is more often the sheer beauty of simple chords juxtaposed in novel ways that continues to ring in the ear long after a song has ended.

Wolf is often accused of being too intellectual for comfort, and there is no doubt that his song-writing is based on a formidable grasp of technique and a penetrating response to poetry. Nevertheless, there is a beauty of sound to almost every page of the Mörike Lieder, and in songs like Fussreise, Gebet, Das verlassene Mägdlein, Schlafendes Jesuskind, Auf ein altes Bild, not to mention Im Frühling and An eine Äolsharfe, he achieves an ineffable simplicity to set beside the greatest songs of Schubert.

This recording follows Wolf’s published order.

from notes by Roger Vignoles © 1996

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