Sechs letzte Wort-lieder - (2010)
for baritone and piano
Rolf Raabe gewidmet
i. Wortschlingen - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 15" ]
heute so glanzlos
klar aber, achtsam
Wort für Worte
die den Meeresküsten
ii. Strandlust - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 50" ]
den Lichter -Wort
rauh beim gehen
ja, du --
ja -- ja für immer
tag nacht losigkeit
iii. Das Licht - [ 1 page, circa 1' 00" ]
sie singen das Lied
in hoher Ferne
dreht das Licht
in der Kehre
seine magische Spur
iv. Tanz - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 30"]
die Lust -- Lustlosigkeit
den -- Rot -- Stein
v. Stille - [ 1 page, circa 1' 20" ]
in den alltäglichen
vi. Wo die Stille aufspringt - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 05" ]
wo die Stille aufspringt
wo ich dich fand
am Wortrand --
wo alle Liebe
trocken im Wind schaukelt
über den Weg
im Anfang das Ende
im Ende der Beginn
[ 10 pages, circa 8' 00"]
Manfred Neber (1939-2000) came from Munich, and was an actor and writer, who had for a time a grant from the Enzenberger project. He studied homeopathy and pursued several careers, late in life becoming ill with an undiscovered leukemia and passed away within months.
These unpublished texts -- from more than one hundred -- were written in the last months of Neber's life, and recommended by friend and amateur musician, Rolf Raabe. From the many, I selected these to set as a small cycle of songs. The word format is such that I chose to make a cursory translation without the same typography, but rather notate the breaks with slanted lines, as the texts offer subtly different readings. The somewhat limited range is to make more accessible this cycle to the amateur singer, amateur being a wondrous word rooted in the verb, "to love."
i. Word loops
Strike the / sparking embers / behind the / light screen
they say to you / uttered blessings / word bridges /today so lackluster
today / not sacred / clear but cautious / the word windings
the blows of sentences / word for word / love which /is long extended
word loops / cascades / over the seas' coastlines
in the wind's flickering / gleaming / trickling quietly
The six-note parallel chords remain introduce and act as bridge material, with the lighter-voiced texture to accompany the vocal line insisting on the tonic major with its added major seventh and ninths.
ii. Beach joy
Beach joy / with you / the quiet / walks / along the sea
the lights - word chains / roughly followed / they flicker / in everything / in nothing
the glory / you early morning / quiet fullness / yes, you -- / yes -- yes for always
day night / soluble / certain alone / with you
After a solidly F major song setting, this downward relationship to E and widely spaced chord forms sets a new mood, more lyric and sweet.
iii. The light
they sing a song / the seas /
in the far distance / turns the light
in the turning / your magical traces
A two-voiced parallelism shifts from chord to chord, suggesting E in the minor and major, as the vocal moves between the tonality changes accordingly. The distant changes of light are suggested by the upper range of the piano as the light dissonances play against one another.
the dance / clear as stars, discerned / the joy -- the listlessness / the borderless / solubility
storm deep / tower high / the ballot / unsullied / of - red - stone
in view / hyacinths -- / confessed
The dance here is a waltz meter and tempo, the raised fourth of the scale sullying a more solid tonic C, until the textural change of the six note chords return for the second half of each strophe allowing the subdominant F to play its tonal role.
wanting to begin / in the commonplace
endings / without end
without stillness / stillness
The light, quiet downward motion of the accompaniment accrues like gentle waves against the shore, one then two and so one. The falling simply repeats again and again, as the vocal line seems to have its rhetorical say over another reality.
vi. Where the silence bursts open
where the silence bursts open / wordless / word rich
where I found you / at the word's edge
there / where all love begins
in the valley / dry in the wind jitters / a leaf / over the path
of the beginning of the end / at the end of beginning
A lyric triple meter and vocal line ends the setting, emphasizing that important notion of "where all love begins." As a lyric testament from a dying man, the linking of beginning and end to the very touching notion of love itself makes for a final, upbeat ending to the cycle.
The score for Sechs letzte Wort-lieder 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.
Sechs letzte Wort-lieder