One hundred songs by ten masters: for high voice, Volume 2

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Henry Theophilus Finck
 

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Page xxv - The general habit of song-writers, he declares, is to ignore everything in the words that will interfere with their developing their melody on its own lines. "There is not a song-writer from Schubert to Brahms, in whose works examples of this sacrifice of the poet to the musician cannot be plucked by the handful.
Page xvii - In op. 54, Sixteen Songs for Children, the ' tearful minor ' is less conspicuous and the majority of the songs has an echo of national melody. It is impossible to deny the charm, the penetrating sweetness and sadness and the vocal excellence of many of Tchaikovsky's songs. At the same time, if we compare him with Schubert or Schumann, with Brahms or Hugo Wolf — or even with his own countrymen Dargomijsky...
Page xvii - Meeting,' in which the music, with its languid valse rhythm, reflects so subtly the paradoxical musings of the lover, vaguely captivated by a vision of radiant beauty that may signify ' woe or delight.' In op. 54, Sixteen Songs for Children, the ' tearful minor ' is less conspicuous and the majority of the songs has an echo of national melody. It is impossible to deny the charm, the penetrating sweetness and sadness and the vocal excellence of many of Tchaikovsky's songs. At the same time, if we...
Page xxv - He allowed the poet to prescribe for him the whole shape and color of a song, down even to the smallest details. It was not that he was so little of a musician that he could not, like the others, bend any poem to his arbitrary will, but that he was so much a musician that he could accept any conditions the poet liked to impose upon him and yet work as easily under them as another man could do without such seeming...
Page xxiv - ... veracious that one can never again imagine it being expressed in any other way. If you come to him with a pre-formed conception of the song as an exquisite melody for the voice thrown into high relief against a piano accompaniment, that is often of no particular significance in itself, you will of course rank him below Schubert.
Page xvii - ... complete emotional contrast to these are the ' Slumber Song ' (op. 16)— the words of which are a Russian version by Maikov of a Greek folk-poem — which is remarkable for tender and restrained sentiment, and ' Don Juan's Serenade ' (op. 38), a dashing song, with a characteristic ritornelle. Tchaikovsky has been very happily inspired by the verses of Count Alexis Tolstoi, who wrote the text of his popular song
Page xxiv - Wagner surpasses all other musical dramatists, — in virtue of the vast range of his interests, his Shakespearean breadth of sympathy, the infinite plasticity of his conceptions, his gift for finding for each poem a musical expression so poignant and...
Page xxv - ... never sacrifices the verbal sense and the verbal accent to the needs of the melody in this way; yet he always manages to give his melodic phrases a look of perfect naturalness. It all seems so inevitable, and sings so easily, as it were of itself, that one does not suspeft the difficulties that have lain in the composer's path, and the ease with which he surmounts them.
Page xvii - (op. 28) and ' Day reigns ' (' Only for thee ') ; in the first we have the utterance of despairing passion, in the second the exultation and fervour of love crying aloud for recognition and fulfilment. In complete emotional contrast to these are the ' Slumber Song
Page xxvi - ... or makes it so completely his ideal to fit his music with perfect flexibility to every convolution of the verse. At his recitals, as we shall see later, he would often begin by reading the poem to the audience before a note of the music was allowed to be heard.

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