The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Henry Pleasants; Hugo Wolf | Go to book overview

112. Rosa Papier's
Lieder Recital

April 17, 1887

With the ever growing popularity of Frau Rosa Papier as Lieder singer, it already appears that the Bösendorfersaal is hardly adequate to accommodate this singer's countless admirers — entrance being paid not only in money, but in words, very good words — and there is reason to fear that Frau Papier, tempted by the successful procedure of her rival, Herr Reichmann, may move the scene of her carefree [liederlich— the pun again] endeavors to the Musikvereinssaal, an obvious disadvantage for the attentive listener and the no less inquisitive spectator. As long as our fears remain unsubstantiated, however, we shall burden ourself with no superfluous anxieties and, instead, simply thank heaven for continuing to guide its blessed daughter in the right path — in the choice of a hall, if not, unfortunately, in the selection of the program.

This was a very mixed bag, if shrewdly assembled. Let's examine it song by song. Anton Rubinstein's "Es blinkt der Tau [ Sparkling Dew] has already won an enduring little spot in the hearts of the public and in the programs of those who sing. Frau Papier sang it tenderly and fervently, just as the song itself sings. "Es war'ne Maid" ( "There was a Bonie Lass") by Ignaz Brüll. The charming poem of Robert Burns, folk-like in character, requires an appropriate musical setting. The composer has conformed sensitively to the peremptory demands of the poem, and has made the edifying salon Tirolese popular in the world of music, too. In Frau Papier's singing of it the words were more decisive than the tune, the latter breathing something of the tart spiciness of folk utterance that floods forth so movingly in the poetic blossoms of this wonderful poet.

We already knew Eduard Schütt's "Im Grase taut's" ( Dew Falls in the Grass). Unfortunately, dew fell not only in the grass, but all over the song. This composition is more boring even than a thaw ("Tauwetter," a pun derived from the dual meaning of "tauen" as "thaw" and "dew)", and just amusing enough to permit the listener to suppress a dangerous yawn with dignity.

"Die Quelle" [ The Fountain] of Goldmark owes its popularity to Franz Schubert, its source to be found in the picturesque piano accompaniment to "Gretchen am Spinrade" [ Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel], whence, with the aid of a prodigal pump, it was channeled into Goldmark's melodic watershed

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