Quiet kisses…

I thought, today, I would just continue with my wish-list for Mr. Jaroussky — Songs and arias that if he sung them, would render my life fulfilled.

In fact, the next on my mind would be two pieces, which are somehow connected for me. The first being:

Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
Aria I – Cantilela
Heitor Villa-Lobos

It is almost impossible not to know the piece. Here is a reminder, sung by the always wonderful Bidú Sayão.

One of my favourite versions though is by Anna Moffo — I just loved her lush, sexy voice. Though it is hard to tell, as the piece tends to bring out the beauty and uniqueness of almost any voice, it doesn’t demand a certain type of voice, I feel.

The piece is written in a way it refers to Brazilian folk tunes, but first and foremost it is a homage to Bach. Wikipedia notes the Suite-like style in which the Bachianas Brasilieras are organized, and the polyphone handling of the voices altogether. But there is more to it. In No.5, the never-ending vocal line, spinning on and on like a dream,  more fading at the end, as if it would continue, somewhere, and not end is rather Baroque — more specifically, Bach or Vivaldi — than Romanticism.

The only drawback for Mr. Jaroussky – he might not be comfortable to sing this high b-flat a bocca chiusa, though I’m sure he can;  and in general the piece is a bit high in tessitura. It has been transposed though, and often. It is not so easy when sticking to the original version with celli and basso, but with other instrumentations, according to my humble opinion, it may be transposed. Referring to Baroque, even Handel transposed his pieces all the time for certain singers and more, changed the arias for them to fit their voices. (E.g., Irene’s part in Tamerlano.)

The second piece has a very similar text, and a similar feeling altogether — in German the genre is called Naturlyrik —  though more on the trandescent site and not quite as vibrantly sensual as Villa-Lobos’ piece. It also uses personifications and images of a moonlit night; I am almost sure that Villa-Lobos not only knew this Lied and the poem well, but loved it.

Robert Schumann
Liederkreis
Die Mondnacht

Of course, this Lied also exists in various keys, I picked Hotter’s version as I couldn’t find Schlusnus’ on youtube.

I added a translation which is about accurate and tries to capture the feeling of the piece. But, nothing matches Eichendorff’s wonderful choice of words; there’s hardly a way to render the beauty of the poem in other languages.

For now, I will continue my prayers, and… well, just let me dream on.

Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
Aria I – Cantilela
Heitor Villalobos.

Tarde uma nuvem rósea lenta e transparente.
Sobre o espaço, sonhadora e bela!
Surge no infinito a lua docemente,
Enfeitando a tarde, qual meiga donzela
Que se apresta e a linda sonhadoramente,
Em anseios d’alma para ficar bela
Grita ao céu e a terra toda a Natureza!
Cala a passarada aos seus tristes queixumes
E reflete o mar toda a Sua riqueza…
Suave a luz da lua desperta agora
A cruel saudade que ri e chora!
Tarde uma nuvem rósea lenta e transparente
Sobre o espaço, sonhadora e bela!

Aria (Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5)
(Traduccion al español)

Tarde, una nube rosa, lenta y transparente,
sobre el espacio, soñadora y bella.
Surge en el infinito la luna, dulcemente,
decorando la tarde, cual delicada doncella
que se apresta y engalana soñadoramente,
y su alma ansía verse bella.
¡Grita al cielo y a la tierra, a la Naturaleza entera!
Callan los pájaros ante sus tristes lamentos
y refleja el mar toda su riqueza…
Suavemente, la luz de la luna despierta ahora
la cruel nostalgia que ríe y llora.
Tarde, una nube rosa, lenta y transparente,
sobre el espacio, soñadora y bella…

Aria (from Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5)

(English translation)

Evening, a rosy, slow and transparent cloud
Over the space dreamy and beautiful
The Moon sweetly appears in the horizon,
Decorating the afternoon like a nice damsel
Who rushes and dreamy adorns herself
With an anxious soul to become beautiful
Shout all Nature to the Sky and to the Earth!
All birds become silent to the Moon’s complaints
And the Sea reflects its great splendor.
Softly, the shining Moon just awakes
The cruel missing that laughs and cries.
Evening, a rosy, slow and transparent cloud
Over the space dreamy and beautiful…

Translation from paisajes liricos.

Mondnacht
Text: Joseph von Eichendorff

Es war, als hätt’ der Himmel
Die Erde still geküsst,
Dass sie im Blütenschimmer
Von ihm nun träumen müsst’.

Die Luft ging durch die Felder,
Die Ähren wogten sacht,
Es rauschten leis’ die Wälder,
So sternklar war die Nacht.

Und meine Seele spannte
Weit ihre Flügel aus,
Flog durch die stillen Lande,
Als flöge sie nach Haus.

Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff
Moonlit Night

It was like Heaven’s glimmer
had touched the Earth’s skin
that in Her blossoms’ shimmer
She had to think of Him.

The breeze was gently walking
through wheatfields near and far;
the woods were softly talking
so bright shone ev’ry star.

And thus my soul extended
its wings through skies to roam:
O’er quiet lands suspended,
my soul was flying home.

Translation from here.

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3 thoughts on “Quiet kisses…

  1. Thanks for this. I never knew or could hear the words. The Bidu Sayao recording was something we played on especially affecting occasions when I was in college, 50 years ago. It is as wonderful as ever. It would be interesting to hear what our Mr. Jaroussky would do with it.

    I have just come upon Sapphische Ode by Brahms. It is sung in D by contraltos, and the score is commonly available in F. You could maybe consider adding it to your list.

  2. I know that piece exists… But to say I knew it would be an exaggeration. Thank you for the suggestion!
    And thank you, glad I could be of help — I love both songs.

    • You are quite right about the translation of the Lied — the tight rhyme scheme of the original does not allow much latitude to the translator. “So sternklar war die Nacht.” is an example. Wonderful piece!

      I’ve put together a set of YouTube recordings of Sapphische Ode, which you will find easily. The most unusual one (and the oldest) is by Ottilie Metzger http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2dDFfJenyg. Her timing is eccentric and touching, and her rapport with her accompanist is remarkable.

      We are performing the Brahms Requiem tonight and Sunday (I play cello in the orchestra). So I am immersed in the sonority of Brahms at the moment.

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