Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder
Recording with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, September 22, 2022, Gothenburg Concert Hall.
Richard Wagner only composed around twenty songs, including a handful in 1839–1842, when he tried in vain to win the hearts of Parisians. The next step was in 1857–1858: in political asylum in Zürich during his most revolutionary period, he simultaneously became involved in a passionate romance with Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of a wealthy Swiss silk merchant. Wagner and his wife had a cottage on the family’s estate in the countryside. One thing is for certain: as a revolutionary, Wagner was guided more by artistic dreams than political convictions.
He worked on Tristan und Isolde and read his libretto for the opera to his lover. She was delighted and responded with her own poetry, which was infused with the same spirit. Wagner was captivated by her poems and set them to music. He composed Der Engel, Schmerzen and Träume in the winter of 1857. They were completed the following May.