(Note: This was supposed to come before “Seasonal Music, II” but WordPress seems to have eaten the first attempt.)
Autumn does not have great PR, the gratuitous schmalz of Thanksgiving aside; it is supposed to be sad, the leaves falling, the days darkening, though to me it means just as easily that the solstice is right around the corner (those days start getting longer again in a month) and if the light is short, it angles through my windows like a tangible substance filling up the rooms, smearing the ceilings with rainbows from the window crystals. To me it feels like a time to be quiet and contemplative, not depressed exactly.
I still like this though. Mahler had not had a good year when he wrote it. As with the earth’s seasons, deaths and farewells are pounded up in creation.
Old recording, George Szell directing. I will still prefer his interpretations to just about any others of the European Romantics. They are perfectly illuminated, each note lucid and heartfelt without bathos or hammy rubato. Maureen Forrester doesn’t suck, either.
2. The Lonely one in autumn
Blueish autumn mists hover over the lake;
white frost covers all grasses;
One would think an artist had strewn jade dust
over the delicate stems.
The sweet fragrance of the flowers has been blown away;
a cold wind bends their stems down.
Soon the withered golden petals
of lotus flowers will float by on the water.
My heart is weary. My little lamp
has gone out with a hiss;
reminding me of sleep.
I am coming to you, beloved resting place!
Yes, give me rest – I need to be refreshed!
I weep a lot in my loneliness.
The autumn in my heart has lasted too long.
Sun of love, will you never shine again,
to gently dry my bitter tears?