For what can be more wretched than the wretch who has no pity upon himself, who sheds tears over Dido, dead for the love of Aeneas, but who sheds no tears for his own death in not loving thee, O God, light of my heart, and bread of the inner mouth of my soul, O power that links together my mind with my inmost thoughts?
The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book I (trans. Albert C. Outler)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Paolo and Francesca ("A Galeotto was the book and he that wrote it. / That day we read in it no further.")
None of these stories of love ended happily, beginning with the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. This will be a season for Wagner, as we are coming up on the bicentenary of his birth next May, and Eschenbach is featuring his music this week and next. The story of the doomed love between the Irish princess and the nephew of the man she was to marry was told many times before Wagner, a love that was represented as enduring even after death by Marie de France in the chèvrefeuille vine that entwined the lovers' twin graves ("bele amie, si est de nus: / ne vus sanz mei, ne mei sanz vus!"). Eschenbach took this music at an astonishingly slow tempo, with the chromatic non-resolutions of the famous half-diminished seventh chord -- the obsessive motto heard over and over in Lars van Trier's Melancholia -- stretched out to the breaking point in the winds and brass. The slow introduction served to point up the contrast with some of the faster, more urgent music later, but most of the pacing was stately, even funereal, making for some shiver-inducing sweeps of sound.
Anne Midgette, National Symphony Orchestra give lush tribute to love (Washington Post, October 5)
Emily Cary, Making 'Neruda Songs' her own (Washington Examiner, October 3)
Katherine Boyle, ‘Neruda Songs’ at the Kennedy Center: A lost love’s legacy (Washington Post, September 27)
Donald Munro, Clovis High grad Kelley O'Connor to open Fresno Philharmonic season (Fresno Bee, September 22)
P. Lieberson, Neruda Songs, L. Hunt Lieberson, Boston Symphony Orchestra, J. Levine
This concert repeats this evening, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.