The music of this piece is transporting in its majestic nobility and magnificent, sweeping strength. It is one of the most superb of MacDowell’s short pieces. From the deep and sonorous opening bars, through passionately mounting fury, to the sombre and mysterious close—in all of it we are confronted with the work of an unmistakably inspired master. With this fitting, unsurpassed picture, not of the outward might of the sea alone, but of the mysterious, relentless and terrible beauty of its significance as Fate, MacDowell concluded his Sea Pieces—Tone poems of artistic supremacy, of inimitable strength and loveliness of expression, that will live as long as there are men and women who are stirred by the deep power of music to give expression to God’s Creation.
OPUS 56. FOUR SONGS, FOR VOICE AND PIANOFORTE.
First Published, 1898 (P.L. Jung. Later assigned to Arthur P. Schmidt).
1. Long Ago, Sweetheart Mine.
2. The Swan Bent Low to the Lily.
3. A Maid Sings Light.
4. As the Gloaming Shadows Creep.
This is a very beautiful group of songs, made from the best of the composer’s artistic material. They are of pure and uncommonly high quality, expressing happiness, tenderness and irresistible charm. The verses of each are the composer’s own, those of the last number being after Frauenlob.
1. Long Ago (Simply, with pathos). This song has a sadness and tenderness which, together with its words, give it an irresistible appeal. The scene it suggests is that of an elderly couple, for whom life is drawing to a close, recalling the far-off days when their undying love for each other commenced. The expression of the music is very human and free from any commonplace sentiment.
2. The Swan Bent Low to the Lily (With much feeling). This song is an exquisite and charming little lyric.
3. A Maid Sings Light (Brightly, archly). This song has a captivating delightfulness and warns off a lad, lest he lose his heart to the fair maid who not only sings light, but loves light.
4. As the Gloaming Shadows Creep (Tenderly). This is one of MacDowell’s finest songs. The words are “after Frauenlob,” and were used previously by the composer in As the Gloaming Shadows Creep in Songs from the Thirteenth Century (without opus number) for Male Chorus. The music is very tender and beautiful in expression, and these qualities atone for the fact that the song does not always show a perfect alliance between words and music; its chief merit is in the outstanding quality of the latter.
Long Ago and A Maid Sings Light form one of the gramophone records made for “His Master’s Voice” series by Alma Gluck. This lyric soprano has sung the two MacDowell songs with sympathy and perfect phrasing. The accompaniments were played by a Mr. Bourdon, who unfortunately disregarded the composer’s tone and legato indications.