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The Three Songs are settings of three poets; the first is O Grille sing ('O Cricket Sing'), a setting of a poem by Max Dauthendey. The cricket's chirping is imitated by the quartet texture, produced by the ensemble in a brilliant light patterning, interplay of pizzicato staccato and gestures, in a type of steady 'moto perpetuum', the delicacy of which allowed the lyrical voice to soar over it. In delightful minor mode, there is a warm viola melody, while the violin frequently dovetails and imitates the voice. The final section shifts into the major mode while the very final couplet, the refrain (which also starts the song) is repeated, returning to the minor in a poignant epilogue, with melismatic wandering on the word Nacht, and a Mahlerian elusive suspension in the final statement.

The second song, to a poem by Riccarda Huch, Fluch den Augen ('Woe to Eyes'), began with more dissonant harmonic bite and energetic rhythmic élan. The central stanza was more lyrical, even classical in melodic style, while the return to a faster texture in the final stanza, accelerated excitingly to a startling concluding cadence in the major.

The cycle concluded with the slowest song, O süsses Dunke himmelweit by Rudolf Himmel List. It's based on a pervasive use of a falling triad motif, treated in imitation and counterpoint, its slow tranquil mood, sustained in the first section, with high shimmery types of sounds and high violin pedal. There was a sweet, almost Schubertian harmony to the middle section and the chromatic resolution following the instrumental interlude, encapsulated Weigl's gently chromatic idiom, which displayed Mahlerian influences as in the very final phrase, an elusive cadence following a reprise of the opening motif.

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Copyright © 10 June 2008 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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