Schoenberg/Nureyev: Moondrunk (1921/77)

June 23, 2007

Here is Rudolf Nureyev’s interpretation of “Moondrunk,” the opening movement of Arnold Schoenberg’s classic, PIERROT LUNAIRE. Nureyev is magical in his treatment of a moonstruck clown. (For my non-new music readers, the vocal technique heard here is called “sprechstimme” or “speaking voice” where a dramatic style of speaking/singing is emulated through notation. This technique comes from early 20th century German cabaret tradition.)

“Moondrunk” from PIERROT LUNAIRE (1921) by Arnold Schoenberg.

The wine which through the eyes we drink
Flows nightly from the moon in torrents,
And as a spring-tide overflows
The far and distant land.
Desires terrible and sweet
Unnumbered drift in floods abounding.
The wine which through the eyes we drink
Flows nightly from the moon in torrents.
The poet, in an ecstasy,
Drinks deeply from the holy chalice,1
To heaven lifts up his entranced
Head, and reeling quaffs and drains down
The wine which through the eyes we drink

Albert Giraud

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