“These mournful flowers
Rain-drenched in the coolness are bending,
While Summer cowers, …”
These Four Last Songs are Richard Strauss’s. The above quote is from what is generally listed as the second, September. The first is Frühling (Spring), the third Beim Schlafengehn (Time to Sleep) and the fourth is Im Abendrot (At Dusk). The lyrics to the first, second and third are to poems by Hermann Hesse. The fourth, to a poem by Joseph von Eichendorff. Follow the hyperlinks to find out more about Strauss and the songs.
I’m studying Four Last Songs with soprano Lucy Cox, to the piano accompaniment of Tom Jesty, as one of the courses run by Choir of the Earth (formerly the Self Isolation Choir). At the end of the course, participants (if they wish) record themselves and the recordings are combined into a virtual choir and performance. I’m working through the pre-recorded master classes in advance of the live sessions which begin on 8 September. There’ll be a performance in November.
This course is different in that for the first time for Choir of the Earth, the singer receives a recording of his/her own individual voice accompanied by Tom.
If it’s any good, I’ll post my recording. But it probably won’t happen. This is very challenging singing. Certainly, I’m biting off more than I can chew. But I love Lieder and have already had a go at Schumann’s song cycle Liederkreis. And, oh, what the hell.
Last Four Songs is informing an art project I’m currently working-on. Music and visual art crossing over, under and passing through each other.
I think my favourite of Last Four Songs is September, closely followed by Im Abendrot. It might be the other way round. Here’s the amazing Barbara Bonney’s interpretation of Four Last Songs: