A boy and a girl are sitting on the banks of the brook, in silence. They look at their reflection and the moon and the stars are their only witnesses. What an idyllic scene! And suddenly the girl says: "The rain comes. Farewell, I am going home". There's something odd in this story. I'm talking about Tränenregen, one of the Lieder from Die schöne Müllerin and, as we know, there are some strange things in this song cycle.
Tränenregen is the tenth song of the cycle; For the first time, the boy and the miller-maid are alone and together. I usually imagine the boy is very young, a teenager. He's sitting next to the girl and he doesn't know what to do nor what to say. They have been there for a while and he doesn't even look at her, he just looks at her reflection. He's the very image of shyness and inexperience. For the first time, too, the young man feels that the brook calls him, as if instead of the reflection of the girl he would see in the water an undine that sings for him. It's somehow disturbing.
The eyes of the boy fill with tears in the final verse, so the reflection disappears and the spell is broken. And then we find the last two verses; They're from Müller, of course, but they remind us of Heine. The anticlimax shows that the thoughts of the boy and the girl went in different directions during that time. The girl should have been really bored, with that guy sitting next to her. Or maybe she's slightly upset, she hardly knows him. The point is that, unexpectedly, she stands and leaves.
Schubert composes a pure strophic Lied with the first six stanzas of the poem, every two stanzas there's a musical one. The first musical stanza describes the scene, the young couple sitting by the riverside. At the second one, the boy is absorbed in their reflection in the water. At the third one, he feels the call of the brook. Since the three stanzas are musically identical, we must rely on the ability of the performers to differentiate between the three situations. The last verse of the poem, the seventh, corresponds with a new musical verse, where we can hear the frustration of the boy when the girl leaves him.
And after this song, what's next? The joy of the boy when telling that his beloved is his. But we'll talk about that another day; Today we're listening to the wonderful Tränenregen, performed by Matthias Goerne and Eric Schneider. Next week will enjoy a great schubertian week in Barcelona: this baritone, accompanied by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, will sing the three Schubert's great cycles. On Monday, Die schöne Müllerin; on Tuesday, Winterreise; on Thursday, Schwanengesang. We're lucky, aren't we?
Wir saßen so traulich beisammen
Im kühlen Erlendach,
Wir schauten so traulich zusammen
Hinab in den rieselnden Bach.
Der Mond war auch gekommen,
Die Sternlein hinterdrein,
Und schauten so traulich zusammen
In den silbernen Spiegel hinein.
Ich sah nach keinem Monde,
Nach keinem Sternenschein,
Ich schaute nach ihrem Bilde,
Nach ihren Augen allein.
Und sahe sie nicken und blicken
Herauf aus dem seligen Bach,
Die Blümlein am Ufer, die blauen,
Sie nickten und blickten ihr nach.
Und in den Bach versunken
Der ganze Himmel schien
Und wollte mich mit hinunter
In seine Tiefe ziehn.
Und über den Wolken und Sternen,
Da rieselte munter der Bach
Und rief mit Singen und Klingen:
Geselle, Geselle, mir nach!
Da gingen die Augen mir über,
Da ward es im Spiegel so kraus;
Sie sprach: Es kommt ein Regen,
Ade, ich geh nach Haus.
We sat so comfortably together
Under the cool roof of alders,
We gazed so quietly together
Down into the murmuring brook.
The moon was already out,
The stars after her,
And we gazed so quietly together
In the silver mirror there.
I sought to see no moon,
Nor the star's shine;
I looked only at her image,
At her eyes alone.
And I saw her reflection nod and gaze
Up from the blissful brook,
The flowerlets on the bank, the blue ones,
They nodded and gazed right back.
And into the brook seemed sunken
The entire heavens;
And seemed to want to pull me under
Into its depths as well.
And over the clouds and stars,
There murmured the brook
And called with singing and ringing:
Fellow, follow me!
Then my eyes filled with tears,
And made the mirror ripple:
She spoke: "The rain comes,
Farewell, I am going home."
(translation by Emily Ezust)