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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shumann's "Liebst du um Schonheit"

Clara Schumann's "Leibst do um Schonheit" is a great example of a simple four couplet poem set to a convincing and affective accompaniment. She uses text painting and the repetition of the poem to her advantage by repeating the same chord progression of I vi42 V to convey the difference in meaning in each stanza. The melody is approximately the same contour. However, the differences in rhythms enhance certain words. For example, each "liebst" or love is accented by either a half or quarter note on the first syllable so that the singer may lean into this word and make it more expressive. Also the phrase ending in "Perlen klar" extends nicely into the climax of measure 27 and the last couplet.
The accompaniment becomes more rich in 27. The eighth notes continue but in both hands of the accompaniment now. This lets the audience know that this is the most importance stanza in the entire poem. The relationship between the two hands parallels the importance of love for loves sake. The two hands seem to be speaking to each other like two lovers. Shumann emphasizes the past word "evermore" with her postlude. The last four measure slowly fade out as if she is imitating the expansion of time.
I love how Shumann progresses her way through the build of the poem. The first and third couplets have subtle endings to their lines. However, the "jades har" and immderdar" meaning "clear pearls" and "evermore" are ornamental and expand to the entire range of the piece. These are exciting and are backed by either a forte or a swell under the singer. These add to the liquid movement of the song as a whole. The retards in measures 26 and 34 are lead ins to what Schumann believes is the most important lines of the poem.
Schumann uses her form and textual painting talent to enhance the meaning behind this simple poem. She exemplifies the poems simple quadruplet format by a musical form which repeats throughout the poem. She also uses familiar chord progressions and dynamics to highlight certain words she feels are at the heart of the poems reason. Finally, she concludes with a confident ending and moves into a disintegrating postlude representing time.

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