Hugo Wolf - Penthesilea, Symphonic Poem (1883-85)

dimace · 1 · 1925

dimace

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Δεν μπορώ να περιγράψω σε πόση εκτίμηση έχω τον τρελάρα Αυστριακό. Μεγάλος συνθέτης σε ό,τι καταπιάστηκε και με ιδιαίτερα αναγνωρίσιμο ήχο. Παραθέτω την ανάλυση του musicanth για το έργο που είναι πλήρης και εμπεριστατομένη μέχρι τελευταίας λεπτομέρειας.

Penthesilea (1883-85)

I. Departure of the Amazon for Troy
II. Penthesilea's Dream of the Feats of Roses
III. Fights, Passions, Madness, Extinction Combats, Passions, Folie, Destruction

A symphonic poem by Austrian composer Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), based on the 1808 play "Penthesilea" by Heinrich von Kleist, which also inspired the opera of the same name by Othmar Schoeck. The play deals with the life of the mythological Amazonian warrior queen Penthesilea, who was famously slain by Achilles during the Trojan War in the "Posthomerica" of Quintus Smyrnaeus. However, in Kleist's play, the roles are reversed and the legend is retold in a very different manner, rife with violence, passion and eroticism.

The following description and synopsis is taken from a Boston Review article by Steve Dowden:

In the late eighteenth century, the world of German letters was much taken with the "noble simplicity and tranquil grandeur" exemplified in Johann Joachim Winckelmann's idyll of Greek antiquity. Writers such as Goethe and Schiller transposed this vision of Greek myth, art, and culture onto the stage, in works such as Goethe's Iphigenia on Tauris, and into poetry, such as Schiller's "Gods of Greece." This was a world and a literary culture unprepared for Kleist's savage imagination. His 1808 verse drama "Penthesilea" (one of eight works he wrote for the stage) not only broke the rules of Aristotelian tragedy-it takes place without traditional acts in 24 consecutive scenes-but also contested the prevailing Goethean view of classical antiquity. Kleist's Greeks resemble Nietzsche's in their instinctive world of passion, violence, and erotic conflict.

In Penthesilea, Kleist envisions an Amazon attack on Achilles and his fellow Greeks as they lay siege to Troy. The Amazons intend to capture young Greek warriors in order to take them back to Themiscyra, capital of the Amazon empire. There they will celebrate "sacred orgies" with their captives-"ecstasy beyond restraint"-in order to insure the continuation of the Amazon lineage. According to Amazon law, each woman must meet the father of her daughters in battle, defeat him, and take him prisoner. (Let it be noted, however, that this is catch-and-release program: once the Amazon is pregnant, she liberates her captive lover. If a boy is born, though, the unlucky infant does not fare so well.)

Penthesilea, young queen of the Amazons, meets Achilles in battle. She is smitten in every way. Achilles deals her a pitiless blow with his lance (of course), that sends the proud virgin sprawling in the dust, weak and deprived of her reason. He "tears her breast," we are told, and "injures her soul." Love, in Kleist's world, is brutal, humiliating, and wounding. It is a combat that anticipates the love-world of Strindberg. Though Achilles has mastered Penthesilea, his blood is aroused with a desire for her that disarms him, literally and figuratively: "Your eyes are better aimed than these arrows," he says to the Amazon warrior princesses who surround him, "By the Olympians, I don't speak in jest, / I have been wounded deep inside, I feel it, / And as a man disarmed in every sense, / I lay myself before your little feet."

Achilles offers himself up to Penthesilea. But that unironic crack about "little feet" gives away his complacent condescension. Their feet may be cute, but these warrior maidens are dangerous. Above all, the wounded queen is dangerous. Playful Achilles challenges her to single combat, but appears unarmed, ready to be defeated by her in accordance with Amazon law and led back to her city as her love slave (much to the disgust of his comrade in arms Odysseus).

Penthesilea, blinded by her injured pride and volcanic passions, arrives with murder in her eyes. Armed with a bow, she shoots Achilles through the throat, sets her man-killing dogs on him, and then pounces, hyena-like, onto his chest, tearing his flesh with her own teeth. Like most of the action in the play, this scene is reported, which places a heavy burden on the resources of poetry. It is here that Kleist excels, and Joel Agee's exceptionally fine blank verse translation admirably captures the narrative force and romantic extravagance of his poetry. In this passage the Queen moves in on her unsuspecting lover for the kill:

"And all the while the Queen was drawing near,
Her pack of dogs apace behind her, scanning
The woods and towering mountains, like a hunter;
And just as he begins to part the boughs
In order to sink down before her feet:
Aha! The antlers give away the stag,
She cries, and, with the strength of madness, draws
The bow until the two ends kiss,
And raises up the bow and aims and shoots,
And drives an arrow through his throat; he falls."

Conductor: Otmar Suitner
Staatskapelle Berlin




Για όποιον ενδιαφέρεται για το e book στα γερμανικά η διεύθυνση είναι: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/6648/pg6648.html
« Last Edit: 23 Feb, 2014, 19:35:33 by dimace »
South Africa (1961-1994) presidents: Charles Swat, Jozua Naude, Jacobus Fouche, Johannes de Klerk, Nicolaas Diederichs, Marais Viljoen, Balthazar Vorster,  Pieter Botha, Chris Heunis, Frederik de Klerk.


 

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