Eichendorff–im Abendrot | Harper's Magazine

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Eichendorff–im Abendrot

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311fried

Wir sind durch Not und Freude
Gegangen Hand in Hand:
Vom Wandern ruhen wir beide
Nun überm stillen Land.
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Through trouble and joy we have
walked hand in hand:
we can rest from our travels
now, above the quiet country-side.

The valleys fade away around us,
the sky grows dark,
Only two larks still rise
dreaming into the fragrant air.

Come here, and let them fly
Soon comes the time for our rest
and we must not lose our way
in this loneliness.

O broad, quiet peace!
So deep in the evening’s gleam,
How exhausted we are with our travels—
can this perhaps be death?

Josef von Eichendorff, “Im Abendrot” from Frühling und Liebe (1841) (S.H. transl.)

Listen to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sing the Richard Strauss setting of Eichendorff’s “Im Abendrot” from Vier letzte Lieder (1946) with George Szell and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. In Philip Roth’s Exit Ghost he commends this song with the following words:

For the profundity that is achieved not by complexity but by clarity and simplicity. For the purity of the sentiment about death and parting and loss. For the long melodic line spinning out and the female voice soaring and soaring. For the repose and composure and gracefulness and the intense beauty of the soaring. For the ways one is drawn into the tremendous arc of heartbreak. The composer drops all masks and, at the age of eighty-two, stands before you naked. And you dissolve.

This is without a doubt one of the greatest works of the German art song repertoire, and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s performance knows no match.

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