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“Scheiden und Meiden” (Partings) explores the metric juxtaposition of two versus three used in “Ablösung im Sommer.” “Trumpetlike” is the first expression in the music as F major arpeggios rise from the tuba and piano. Despite the repeated ascending passages, the first dynamic is piano so the tubist should strive to be precise to start with soft dynamics.

In this song, the pianist must take care to follow dynamics, which do not always coincide with those of the tubist. The rhythmic motor of the repeated ostinato in the piano provides the driving force for this first part of the song. As the text notes, “There rode three horsemen,” the piano rhythm mimics a riding motive made famous by Richard Wagner. As the song enters a new time signature (switching from triple to duple), it slows just slightly; however, the eighth note should stay relatively constant through this meter change. Wide triplets are notated in measures 23 and 24, providing an opportunity for both the pianist and the tubist to slow down and expand this duple section musically before the horse-like melody comes back in the piano and forces us to stay in strict time.

The melodic excitement associated with this song and the contrast between the duple and triple sections make this song interesting as a performer or listener. It would work well as a closing song when performing this collection of works, should one decide not to program the entire collection. 

Together with two songs from Volume I to words by Leander, this was performed in Budapest on 13 November 1889 by Bianca Bianchi, a distinguished member of Mahler’s Budapest Opera team, who was “very discreetly accompanied by Director Mahler at the piano…to lively applause, and with Mr. Mahler was repeatedly called back.” Thus wrote the critic of the Pester Lloyd. While a little critical of supposed discrepancies between words and music in the other songs, the same reviewer found that in “Scheiden und Meiden” the “right note is struck…this is kept in the manner of a genuine folk-song, and only at the end is one a little distracted by the artistically handled vocal part which, almost alla concertante, floats up two octaves.” Clearly he refers here to the four times repeated top Fs32 (hardly two octaves!) on the word “Ade!”, which actually form the peak of the climactic coda. The eventful compression of the song is dictated by the urgency of the early morning canter of the three riders out of town, past the window of the singer’s sweetheart. In this crowded space Mahler manages to accommodate three moods: one a bold farewell gesture towards the girl while the hooves thunder on in relentless dotted rhythm; one reflecting on the words “Yes, to say farewell and go causes pain!”, where the dotted rhythm momentarily ceases; and another, with, the rhythm but in a muted piano in the tonic minor, first clothing the words “If then we have to part…”, then, rather eerily, “the child in the cradle says already farewell”. Needless to say, this song asks for an accomplished singer who can speedily react to its quick-changing moods.

"Farewell and forgo". Original German folk song: "Es ritten drei Reiter zum Tor hinaus".

 

Scheiden und Meiden

 

Es ritten drei Reiter zum Tor hinaus,

Ade!

Feins Liebchen schaute zum Fenster hinaus,

Ade!

Und wenn es denn soll geschieden sein,

So reich mir dein goldenes Ringelein.

Ade! Ade! Ade!

Ja scheiden und meiden tut weh.

 

Und der uns scheidet, das ist der Tod,

Ade!

Er scheidet so manches Jungfräulein rot,

Ade!

Und wär doch geworden der liebe Leib

der Liebe ein süßer Zeitvertreib.

Ade! Ade! Ade!

Ja scheiden und lassen tut weh.

 

Es scheidet das Kind wohl in der Wieg,

Ade!

Wenn werd ich mein Schätzel wohl kriegen?

Ade!

Und ist es nicht morgen, ach, wär es doch heut,

Es macht uns allbeiden gar große Freud,

Ade! Ade! Ade!

Ja scheiden und meiden tut weh.

 

 

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