Abel - (2009)    

Else Lasker-Schüler

for mezzo soprano and piano


Kains Augen sind nicht gottwohlgefällig,

Ables Angesicht ist ein goldener Garten,

Abels Augen sind Nacthigallen.


Immer singt Abel so hell

Zu den Saiten seiner Seele,

Aber durch Kains Leib führen die Gräbern der Stadt.


Und er wird seinen Bruder erschlagen --

Abel, Abel, dein Blut färbt den Himmel teif.


Wo ist Kain, da ich ihn stürmen will:

Hast du die Süßvogel erschlagen

In deines Bruders Angesicht?!!

[ 3 pages, circa 3' 10" ]

Else Lasker-Schüler


Cain's eyes are not pleasing to God,

Abel's face is a golden garden,

Abel's eyes are nightingales.


Always Abel sings brightly

To the strings of his soul,

But through Cain's act is a people led to the grave.


And he will strike his brother down --

Abel, Abel, your blood colors heaven deeply.


Where is Cain, that I might attack him:

Have you struck down the sweet birds

In your brother's face?


For more on this author, please see my settings for soprano, Vier Lieder von Else Lasker-Schüler.



Conceived for mezzo soprano and piano, the color of the voice is, in my imagination, the author's voice as well as she retells the crux of the story, and then lashes out with anger to herself strike down the mythic "first" murderer. The grief of empathizing with the victim is spoken in the accents and unresolved suspensions in the accompaniment as well. The wide spread chords with an interior set of voices moving  within them sets the stage, as the harmonic resolution from a seeming tonic of C to the first cadence in E minor darkens the tone.



The continual reference to E minor with the resolute F set against it as upper neighbor acts out the violence. The setting lingers into quiet with a soft cadence on E minor, some suspensions unresolved.





The score for Abel is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.