Tag Archives: Four Last Songs

Blue Monday

Renee Fleming sings “September,” the second in Richard Strauss’ cycle of Four Last Songs, composed less than a year before Strauss’ death in September 1949. The lyrics are from Herman Hesse:

The garden is in mourning;
the cool rain seeps into the flowers.
Summertime shudders,
quietly awaiting his end.

Golden leaf after leaf falls
down from the tall acacia tree.
Summer smiles, astonished and feeble,
in his dying dream of a garden.

For a while beside the roses
he remains, yearning for repose.
Slowly he closes
his weary eyes.

Or, if you prefer the German original:

Der Garten trauert,
kühl sinkt in die Blumen der Regen.
Der Sommer schauert
still seinem Ende entgegen.

Golden tropft Blatt um Blatt
nieder vom hohen Akazienbaum.
Sommer lächelt erstaunt und matt
In den sterbenden Gartentraum.

Lange noch bei den Rosen
bleibt er stehn, sehnt sich nach Ruh.
Langsam tut er
die müdgeword’nen Augen zu.

Fleming has just released a new edition of Four Last Songs, and I haven’t yet decided if it’s superior or even equal to the 1995 recording I’ve always sworn by.

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