Richard Strauss: Beim Schlafengehen

Written by Antonina Chehovska


In category: Song of the Day

Published April 18, 2018

Guten Tag. I admire Richard Strauss’ music. His harmonic language, texture, the surprising subito piano dynamics and frequent lack of downbeats creates a soaring, most round eternal sound. His ability to write for the voice was extraordinary. Strauss also loved words. He wrote numerous songs and operas and worked with master poets. I have a special connection to the Four Last Songs because I have performed them numerous times with piano and once with orchestra. Once I live with certain pieces over and over, I feel as they are my personal ones. And these songs particularly feel as though I commissioned Strauss to write them for my voice and my soul.  I love the simple and vivid poetry and of course the music that simply transports you into another world. They are so perfectly written and Strauss paints the words so vividly. It’s impossible not to see his vision.

I’m not going to say much more and just leave you here with this poem and the recording. Be enveloped in this beauty. My absolute favorite moment is right where the voice takes over after the gorgeous violin solo. It is divine! (The poem for me is a beautiful celebration of life… it’s about to turn to the chapter of eternity.)

Beim Schlafengehen – Upon Going to Sleep
Hermann Hesse / Translation: David Paley

Now that day has made me tired,
Will my blissful yearning
Receive the starry night
In friendship like a tired child.

Hands, rest from all your tasks,
Brow, forget all thinking
All my senses now
Want to sink in slumber.

And my soul, unwatched,
Wants to soar in freest flight
Within enchanted night time circles,
To live a thousand fold profoundly.

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Ukrainian born soprano Antonina Chehovska is a 2016 prizewinner of the prestigious George London Foundation Competition. Of her performance, the New York Times declared her “heartfelt ‘Letter Scene’ from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’ made her an audience favorite and mine.” Antonina will join NYFOS for its 30th Anniversary Celebration on April 24, 2018 at Merkin Concert Hall.


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