The Wesendonck-Lieder were written in 1857-1858 in an exceptional momentum of creative effervescence, of musical and cultural search, and of passionate love. Wagner develops the chromatic writing that will characterize Tristan und Isolde, two of the Wesendonck-Lieder (“Träume” and “Im Treibhaus”) being described by the composer himself as Studies for Tristan.
Based on the original score for voice and piano, and Wagner’s orchestration of the 5th lied, we offer here a version of the Wesendonck-Lieder for voice, string quartet and piano. We intend to highlight the structure of Wagner’s composition as well as Mathilde Wesendonck’s text. As far as the structure of the lieder is concerned, we highlight the circulation and the exchanges of leitmotivs, but also of the intermediate parts. The wonderful version of Siegfried Idyll for 13 instruments by Wagner is, in our opinion, leading to a chamber music conception.
As far as the text is concerned, we underline the changes of atmosphere from one strophe to another, and do not hesitate to include instrumental figuralisms (e.g. the ascending phrase of the cello at the end of the first lied “Der Engel”, as the angel taking away the character).
(translation Philippe Do)