Friday, September 23, 2011

An Autumnal Interlude: from Haydn's "Seasons"

Though it's felt like autumn much of this past week, it officially begins at 5:05am EDT (that's 9:05am GMT) today (Friday, September 23rd) so I thought, after all these posts about very serious things, here's something to just sit back and listen to.

Soprano Gundula Janowitz sings the role of the peasant girl Hanne, tenor Peter Schreier sings Lukas and bass Martti Talvela sings Simon, along with the Wiener Singverein and the Vienna Symphony conducted by Karl Böhm in this classic DG recording of the "Autumn" section of Franz Josef Haydn's secular oratorio, The Seasons.

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Usually,I'm no great fan of many videos you might find on YouTube - copyright issues aside - and rather than spending hours trying to find one that might suit, I thought this one would be good for this post. Not an ideal recording (though, for its time, a fine performance), it also includes the texts in German and a less legible English translation. Admittedly, given the nature of the libretto (which Haydn detested), it might be better not to know what they're singing...

(Aside from other obnoxious issues I've recently been having with posting on Blogger, I can't seem to get these video embeds to fit in here, any more: though I'm using the smallest possible setting available, even smaller custom settings fail to fit. Grrrr... well, like I said about the text, anyway...)

Well, here's an English translation of the text for most of Part III (Autumn): unfortunately, the site I found does not include every number...

21. Overture (Expressing the Farmer’s delight at the rich harvest)
21a. Recitative Hannah
Whate’er the blossomed Spring put in white promise forth, Whate’er the Summer’s sun swelled to a full perfection, now in bounteous Autumn rejoice the heart of man.

22. Recitative Lucas, Simon
Rich, silent, deep, the harvest stands, far as the circling eye can see; The granaries can scarcely hold th’abundance of the flowing fields. The labourer’s pains are now repaid; and as he glances round on every side the prospect gladdens his grateful heart.

23. Trio & Chorus Simon, Hannah, Lucas
Thus Nature, with a lavish hand, rewards the toil of man; and in the lap of Industry the mellow plenty falls. Her bounties shine, in Autumn, unconfined. These are the gifts of honest toil: The cottage where we dwell; The clothing that we wear; The produce that we eat. These are the gifts bestowed by thee, O toil, O honest toil. Thou source of virtuousness - uniting every gentle heart: Thou source of justice - protecting every erring heart: Thou source of moral strength - which governs every cultured heart. O toil, O honest toil, from thee springs every good.

26. Recitative Simon Where once the plenteous harvest wav’d, some uninvited guests appear: scared from the stubble limps the hare, and, scampering, the harvest mouse. The farmer sees no wrong, and lets these creatures take their humble dole. The gleaners spread around and feed on nature’s charity. The clamour of the sportsman’s gun is heard, fast-thundering. With shouts resounding from the hills, wild for the chase, the huntsmen come.

27. Aria Simon
Behold, along the ravaged fields the spaniel goes in search of scent; and still obedient to command, he follows it unerringly. But now his senses are aroused; he hears the chiding voices no more. He races, and in mid-career he scents the game, and stiff, with open nose, he stands. In vain they beat their idle wings upon the surges of the air; though borne aloft they are not safe: the shot rings out from the fowler’s gun and down they fall from the towering height.

29. Chorus
Hark the mountains resound! The vales and forests ring! It is the shrill-sounding hunting-horn - the cry of the hounds and the huntsmen! The noble stag is roused by fear; and eagerly all of the pack pursue. See how he leaps, See how he bounds, O see how he flies! He bursts the thickets and sweeps through the glade, and fleeter than wind seeks the sheltering wood. The hounds have lost the scent; dispersed they seek the latent prey. Tally ho! The clamour of the hunting-horn has gathered them up again. Tally ho! With ardour redoubled, up behind the stag comes again the inhuman rout. Surrounded now on every side, he stands at bay and groans in anguish, while the pack hang at his chest. The clamorous horn proclaims the kill, relaying the glories of the chase, the death of the stag and the sportsman’s joy. Hurrah!

30. Recitative Hannah, Simon, Lucas
The vineyard now its wealth displays, with bending boughs and clusters clear, that swell refulgent on the day, as thus they brighten with their juice. The rural youths and maids, exulting rove the fields, each fond for each to cull the sweet Autumnal prime, and speak the vintage nigh. See how the loaded vats foam in transparent floods, while in their festive joy the jocund sound re-echoes. Thus they rejoice, nor think of the toil, from early morn to set of sun; but, when they see the juices ferment, their work gives way to merriment.

31. Chorus
Joyful the liquor flows, that by degrees refined, high-sparkling cheers the soul! Hurrah! Produce the mighty bowl! Now let us merry be! Let us drink now, drink in festive joy. Let us sing now, sing in festive joy. Hip, hip, hurrah! Three cheers for the wine! Three cheers for the soil that did no wrong; Three cheers for the vat that made it strong; Three cheers for the bowl we pass along. Let us drink now, fill the glasses, Once more let us drink in festive joy. Hurrah! Let’s praise the juice divine! Hey there! Three cheers for the wine! A band from the village now starts up the dancing: The fiddle is scraping, The organ is groaning, The bagpipe is droning. The children are prancing, The youths to the sound are advancing. The girls in their arms now are dancing An old country dance. Trip it, trip it, foot it featly! Trip it, trip it, step it neatly! Good fellows all, come fill the bowl! And drain it down! Gaily singing! Laughter ringing! Hip, hip, hip, hurrah! Joyous and jocund, let’s merry be! And now let all the company In friendly manner all agree Let’s merry be this joyful day! Hang sorrow! Let’s cast care away! Let us now both sport and play! Three cheers for the wine, the noble wine, that joyfully now appears! Let’s praise the juice divine. All hail to the wine. All hail!

(...remember what I said about the text? yeah...)

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On this first weekend of Autumn, however, I'll be taking in the first concert of the season with the Harrisburg Symphony conducted by Stuart Malina - a mostly-Russian program with Rachmaninoff's 1st Piano Concerto and Prokofiev's 5th Symphony. The odd-man-out here is Franz Liszt, a Hungarian-born pianist and composer who wrote a series of rhapsodies based on gypsy themes, six of which have also been orchestrated. The 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody, the most popular of these, opens the concerts - Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm at the Forum. An hour earlier, the orchestra's assistant conductor Tara Simoncic will be offering a pre-concert talk in the auditorium free to ticket-holders.

Then next weekend, it's the Juilliard Quartet who'll be coming to town, performing the curious and brief Three Pieces for String Quartet by Igor Stravinsky, Janáček’s 1st String Quartet inspired by Tolstoy's "The Kreutzer Sonata," and one of the string quartets Mozart dedicated to his friend, Haydn, the Quartet in A Major, K.464. That's at Whitaker Center, Oct. 1st at 8pm.

Personally, between all the rain and the flood - geez, the third worst flood in Central Pennsylvania since 1900 - I'm certainly glad to see this summer end. Now for the new season - both Autumn and the 2011-2012 Season!

Winter will be here, soon enough...

- Dick Strawser

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