Vocal duets - Robert Schumann



I found that the best way to compile Schumann’s duets is to start with the 34 vocal duets as collected together in the modern Peters Edition (Duette für Gesang und Klavier, ed. M. Friedlaender, no. 2392). The contents of this volume also correspond closely to the following CD, which is the essential purchase for anyone interested in hearing Schumann’s duets:

Schumann: Duette. Julia Varady, soprano; Peter Schreier, tenor, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Christoff Eschenbach, piano. Deutsche Grammophon 457 915-2, recorded 1977; reissued on CD 1999. Songs on this CD are indicated below by § .

A more recent CD, number 7 in Hyperion's Schumann songs series, with Dorothea Röschmann (soprano), Ian Bostridge (tenor) and Graham Johnson (piano), includes the four Op. 34 duets and the four Op. 78 duets (Hyperion CDJ33107).

Richard Miller's book (Singing Schumann. An interpretive guide for performers, Oxford University Press 1999, £26), devotes a whole chapter to the duets. In contrast, the older book by Eric Sams, The songs of Robert Schumann (3rd ed., 1993, Faber, soft covers £10) mentions only one duet - Op 37, No. 6.

Texts (and some translations into English) of many of the duets not discussed below can be found on Emily Ezust’s website.

Peters Edition contents (plus first lines in italics):

Op 29 No 1. Ländliches Lied: Und wenn die Primel (two sopranos) §

Op 34 No 1. Liebesgarten: Die Liebe ist ein Rosenstrauch (soprano and tenor) §

Liebesgarten: Graham Johnson says that this is the least performed of all the Schumann duets, partly because the tessitura of the tenor line is demandingly high. It is published in A major. Here is a transposition to G, to make it a bit easier for the tenor - but it takes the soprano down to B below middle C. Here also is a transposition to F that I made a few years ago from the original 1887 edition - definitely for mezzos!

Op 34 No 2. Liebhabers Ständchen: Wachst du noch, Liebchen? (soprano and tenor) §

Op 34 No 3. Unterm Fenster: Wer ist vor meiner Kammertür? (soprano and tenor) §

Op 34 No 4. Familien-Gemälde: Großvater und Großmutter (soprano and tenor) §

Robert alluded to the melody of this 'grandfather' duet in several later piano pieces. Many years after, in 1879, Clara Schumann wrote a March in E-flat major for piano four-hands, incorporating Robert's tune. It was a present from Clara to long-standing friends, who were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.

Op 37 No. 6. Liebste, was kann denn uns scheiden! (soprano and tenor)

Op 37 No 7. Schön ist das Fest des Lenzes (soprano and tenor) §

Op 37 No 12. So wahr die Sonne scheinet (soprano and baritone) §

Op 43 No 1. Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär (soprano and alto) §

Op 43 No 2. Herbstlied: Das Laubfällt von den Bäumen (soprano and alto) §

Op 43 No 3. Schön Blümelein: Ich bin hinaus gegangen (soprano and alto) §

Op 74 No 1. Erste Begegnung: Von dem Rosenbusch, o Mutter (soprano and alto)

Op 74 No 2. Intermezzo: Und schläfst du, mein Mädchen (tenor  and bass) §

Op 74 No 3. Liebesgram: Dereinst, dereinst, o Gedanke mein (soprano and alto) §

Op 74 No 4. In der Nacht: Alle gingen, Herz, zur Ruh (soprano and tenor)  §

In der Nacht. Richard Miller (op. cit.) writes:

"harmonic progressions and momentary modulations blur tonality. The melodic and harmonic inventions are of the highest order. ... Schumann brings a quality of emotional depth seldom surpassed in either his Lieder or those of any other composer."

Here is a transposition down to F minor from the original, which is in G minor.

Op 74 No 5. Botschaft: Nelken wind' ich und Jasmin (soprano and alto)

Op 78 No 1. Tanzlied: Eia, wie flattert der Kranz (soprano and tenor) §

Op 78 No 2. Er und Sie: Seh ich in das stille Tal (soprano and tenor) §

Op 78 No 3. Ich denke dein (soprano and tenor) §

Op 78 No 4. Wiegenlied: Schlaf, Kindlein, schlaf (soprano and tenor) §

Op 79 No 9. Mailied: Komm, lieber Mai (two sopranos) §

Op 79 No 15. Das Glück: Vöglein vom Zweig (two sopranos) §

Op 79 No 18. Frühlingslied: Schneeglöckchen klingen wieder (two sopranos)§

Op 79 No 20. Die Schwalben: Es fliegen zwei Schwalben (two sopranos) §

Op 101 No 3. Ich bin dein Baum (alto and bass) §

Op 101 No 7. Die tausend Grüsse (soprano and tenor) §

Op 103 No. 1. Mailied: Pflücket Rosen (soprano and alto)

Op 103 No. 2. Frühlingslied: Der Frühling kehret wieder (soprano and alto)

Op 103 No. 3. An die Nachtigall: Bleibe hier und singe (soprano and alto)

Op 103 No. 4. An den Abendstern: Schweb empor am Himmel (soprano and alto)

Op 112 No. 20. Ei Mühle, liebe Mühle (soprano and alto)

Op 138 No 4. Bedeckt mich mit Blumen (soprano and alto) §

Op 138 No 9. Blaue Augen: Blaue Augen hat das Mädchen (tenor and bass) §

No Op Sommerruh': Sommerruh', wie schön bist du (soprano and alto)§

In addition to the Peters compilation above, the Deutsche Grammophon CD has:

Op 33 No. 3. Die Lotosblume (tenor and baritone) §


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