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Vol. XIV


No. 159


IT was an extremely happy idea on the part of H.M.V. to publish a representative collection of Lotte Lehmann's lieder performances in an album, and by what I cannot help think'ing was the result of an equally happy chance rather than deliberate design these five ten-inch red discs have achieved a unity of mood vvhich almost entitles the collection to be called " vVoman in Love "-but only almost, because two or three songs are included which render such a title impossible. And i t was a pity that the possibility of a central theme did escape the notice of the singer and her publishers, because by the slightest alteration of choice in the songs we might have had not merely " ''''omanin Love," but an admirable illustration of the change in the treatment of such a theme during the period that stretches between Mozart and Hugo Wolf. However, even as the collection stands i t is sufficiently illustrative of passing time to deserve a detailed examination .

We begin with two enchanting songs by Mozart. The leaflet of German and English words does not tell us who wrote any of the songs, and I am rather puzzled to know why the translator bothered to put rhymes because, as far as I can make out, he has not produced a singing version in English, and the attempt to achieve rhyme and metre sometimes results in destroying the significance of the German. The first song is Die Versc/zweigul1g, which is translated "Secrecy," but which in this context would be better translated as "Discretion." It is a tale of pastoral love-of a Chloe who lets her swain kiss her hand, and blushes in the conventional manner. But we are not left to suppose that these figures of Dresden china are that and nothing else, for at the end of each verse the poet declares" Ich will nichts weiter sagen" (" I will not say any more "), and thus says a great deal. In the last verse we hear that the bashful young swain spends a good deal of his time during the summer in peeping through a tree at Chloe bathing, and once more the poet ends, " I will not say more." Yet in this verse for some mysterious reason the translator changes the meaning of the German to " What more is there to tell you ?" I t is clearly the intention of the poet to avoid what we call realism, and the effect of the little song with its enchanting simple melody is like some half-wanton picture by Watteau or Greuze. We are in the eighteenth century. Nature is in such a kindly mood as nowadays we find her in snapshots which record like the sundial only the sunny hours. A shepherd and a shepherdess are in love. In the eighteenth century what need was there to say more? The phrasing of Lotte Lehmann throughout this song is a joy. The second song by Mozart, To Chloe, may be accepted as a pendant to the first, and is as simple and straightforward and at the same time as beautiful an expression of the rapture of appeased love as may be heard. Actually the young man is speaking, and i t is not an appropriate song for a woman. Nevertheless i t is such a perfect pendant to the other Mozart song that Madame Lehmann can hardly be blamed for including it.

The next disc gives us Schubert, and this time I think i t was a definite mistake to include Ungeduld from Die SchOne Nlilllerin. I t was also a mistake to use a verse translation. In Miss Winifred Radford's prose translation, done for the limited edition of the suite sung by Gerhard Riisch, we read "I would teach a young starling to speak the words with the sound of my own voice, and the burning longing of my own heart." This becomes:

" I train a young and tender starling dear,

And he should speak those words in tone so clear, As if my lips had said that tender word Whose echo in my ardent heart is heard." Surely everybody will agree with me that such an amplification to grind out rhyme and metre is disastrous. "Tender" is a particularly unfortunate epithet to insert for a starling, because i t suggests that when the starling has delivered his message i t will be