A song of great longing, "Im Frühling" (In Spring) is yet another of the perceptive combinings of poetic expression and superb music that marked Hugo Wolf's best work. At a duration of approximately four and a half minutes, it is longer than many of Wolf's keenly observed vignettes; its length is dictated by the detail of Eduard Mörike's poem and by the lingering scale of its utterance. It is, in the words of Wolf annotator Eric Sams, "a masterpiece." Mörike's reputation as one of Germany's greatest lyric poets is corroborated by the text. The speaker lies on a hill in the springtime; observing nature around him, he asks his imagined love where she lives, that he might live with her. Yet, his heart understands that she, like the zephyr, has no home. When will his heart, open in longing and hope, be stilled? The poet's vision invokes the cloud, the river, the sun's golden kiss. His dazzled eyes close as if in sleep, while his ears hear only the buzz of a bee. His thoughts wander, flitting from happiness to lament. What memories are being formed in this reverie? Memories of days now past, memories too interior for words. Although Frank Walker placed this song among those of Wolf beholden to folk music, it seems too finely wrought for such categorization. The accompaniment begins its constant modulation in the very first measures. The sinuous melody and the equally flowing accompaniment often seem to be pursuing their own individual course, but this merely reinforces the deep, yet dreamy ruminations of the text. Little rapturous gestures cause the music to rise hopefully, while others, 'ihr habt kein Haus' fall away, returning the listener to the wondering of the opening phrases. When the singer tells of his eyes closing, a brief interlude for accompaniment only gently affirms the effect of peaceful thoughts roaming as if of their own volition. Before it ends, the interlude gathers itself together and moves back to conscious thought. The singer enters, once more focused on his yet unfulfilled yearning. What memories? Thoughts of the "Alte unnennbare Tage!". The gravity underlying this final phrase has lingered barely beneath the surface all along, unstated but keenly felt. ~ All Music Guide
Hier lieg' ich auf dem Frühlingshügel;
die Wolke wird mein Flügel,
ein Vogel fliegt mir voraus.
Ach, sag' mir, all einzige Liebe,
wo du bleibst, daß ich bei dir bliebe!
Doch du und die Lüfte, ihr habt kein Haus.
Der Sonnenblume gleich steht mein Gemüte offen,
in Lieben und Hoffen.
Frühling, was bist du gewillt?
Wann werd' ich gestillt?
Die Wolke seh' ich wandeln und den Fluß,
es dringt der Sonne goldner Kuß
mir tief bis in's Geblüt hinein;
die Augen, wunderbar berauschet,
tun, als schliefen sie ein,
nur noch das Ohr dem Ton der Biene lauschet.
Ich denke Diess und denke Das,
ich sehne mich, und weiß nicht recht, nach was:
halb ist es Lust, halb ist es Klage:
mein Herz, o sage,
was webst du für Erinnerung
in golden grüner Zweige Dämmerung?
--Alte unnennbare Tage!
Eduard Mörike (1804-1875)
Here I lie on the spring hill:
the clouds become my wings,
a bird flies before me.
O tell me, one and only love,
where you are that I may be near you!
But you and the breezes have no home.
Like the sunflower, my soul stands open,
in love and hope.
Spring, what do you wish of me?
When will I be at peace?
I see the cloud strolling by, and the river,
the golden kiss of the sun
penetrates deep into my blood;
my eyes, wonderfully enchanted,
close, as if they would sleep,
only my ear still listens to the hum of the bee.
I think of this and that,
I yearn, and know not quite after what:
half is joy, half is complaint:
my heart, o speak,
what memories do you weave
under twilights golden-green branches?
--Past inexpressible days!
Translation by FiDiTanzer528
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Gerald Moore (piano)