Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

Kaitlyn Bourne and Phoebe Smith soprano
Magnus Walker tenor
Aron Goldin piano

All performers at this event are conforming to our safety requirements of being at least two metres apart.

Oh do not sing for me, fair maiden,
Those Georgian songs so sad;
They remind me
Of another life and a distant shore.
Alas, your cruel strains
Remind me
Of the steppe and the night,
And the moonlit face of my distant beloved.

(Aleksandr Pushkin, trans Philip Ross Bullock)

Why is my sick heart pounding so fiercely,
And asking, and longing for peace?
What scares me about the night?
She knocks at the door – a thud and a groan…
Flickers from the half-dead lamp… Oh God!
My heart leaps in my throat! Someone is calling me,
Whispering sadly… creeping in… but my cell is empty,
It’s nobody – just the tolling of midnight…
Oh loneliness! Oh poverty!

(Aleksey Apukhtin after Alfred de Musset, trans Aron Goldin)

The cherry tree flowers outside my window,
Pensively it flowers in its silver raiment…
And its fresh and fragrant branch
Inclines to me and calls me…

Blissfully, I breathe in the joyful breath
Of its quivering, airy blossoms,
Their sweet aroma clouds my mind,
And they sing wordless songs of love…

(Glafira Galina, trans Philip Ross Bullock)

We clustered aboard the ship;
Some yanked the sails,
Others dragged the oars
In unison through the raging depths.

In silence
Our great captain, leaning on the wheel,
Commands from the mighty prow.
And I, brimming with hope,
Sing to the swimmers…

Suddenly the ocean’s breast
Rocks against us in a booming whirlwind…
The helmsmen and swimmers go under!
I alone, a mystic singer,
Am thrown ashore by the thunderstorm.
And so I sing the hymns of old,
And in my drenched robes
I dry under a rock in the baking sun.

(Aleksandr Pushkin, trans Aron Goldin)

[no text]

Night is mournful, like my dreams…
Far off in the broad distant steppe,
A lonely light flickers…
My heart brims with sadness and love.

But to whom and how could you say
What calls out to you, what fills your heart?
The road is long, the far-flung steppe is silent –
The night is mournful, like my dreams.

(Ivan Bunin, trans Aron Goldin)

She pondered. Alone, leaning before the window,
She sits, her distant gaze flickering
In the gloom of the night; and in the boundless blue
Of the darkening skies, casting down their gentle rays,

The stars rise in a silent constellation;
It’s as though this luminous horde
Comes soaring mysteriously and trembles
In delight over her bowed head.

(Ivan Tkhorzhevsky after Jean Marie Guyot, trans Aron Goldin)

I would like to die on the wings of rapture,
In the half-sleep of the idle, inspired by a dream,
Free from the pangs of regret, the torture of thought,
The faint-hearted tears of slipping this mortal coil.

I’d like to die in a fragrant spring,
In a desolate garden, on a balmy day,
While a sea of dark lindens doze above me
And lilacs quiver in bloom.

The nearby brook would murmur mysteriously,
Rupturing and stirring the peaceful silence,
And the blue sky would speak to me clearly
Of immortal heaven in a solemn hush.

I wouldn’t pray – I wouldn’t weep – but in dying
I would doze off sweetly, and dream of drifting…
Drifting off, as a soundless wave
Carries me into the arms of another wave…

(Semyon Nadson, trans Aron Goldin)

In the cradle of youth she loved me
And handed me a seven-barrelled flute;
With a smile, she listened, and faintly
Along the sonorous holes of the hollow flute
I was already playing with weak fingers –
Both solemn divinely-inspired hymns,
And the tranquil tunes of Phrygian shepherds.

Morning to evening, in the quiet shadow of the oak trees,
I listened closely to the teachings of this secret virgin;
And, delighting me with a needless gift,
Dashing aside the curls from her pretty brow,
She herself lifted the flute from my grasp.
With sacred breath the flute was brought to life
And my heart was filled with an ineffable magic.

(Aleksandr Pushkin, trans Aron Goldin)

And I had a homeland;
How beautiful it was!
How the fir-tree would sway over me…
But it was just a dream!

Back there I had friends and family.
From all sides
Their words of love echo back to me…
But it was just a dream!

(Aleksey Pleshcheyev after Heinrich Heine, trans Aron Goldin)

If you and I must be parted by fate, let be –
Let someone else take my beauty!
I take flight from his arms, from the oppressive night,
Up and away on the wings of a dream.
I see once more our old overgrown garden:
The dying embers of sunset reflected in the pond,
Lindens perfuming the cool shade of the alleys,
A nightingale singing in a grove somewhere past the pond…
I open a glass door, quivering,
Peering into the eerie gloom –
What! A branch snaps – under your feet??
A bird flutters – did you scare it away??
I listen, waiting in agony,
Cautiously trailing your rustling steps –
I shiver all over from passion and terror –
Is that you taking my hand, dear friend??
Hugging me so gently…? That’s your
Kiss – a kiss without fire! With a pounding,
Anguished heart, blood coursing in exhilaration,
You dare not surrender yourself to the madness of love –
And now that I listen to your exalted voice,
I dare not give vent to my desires,
Instead shaking and whispering: ‘My dear!
Let him take my awful beauty!
And again I will fly from his arms,
From the oppressive Night, on the wings of my dream,
To the garden, to the gloom, to this very bench,
Where you first probed my soul…
I merge my soul with yours –
So he takes my awful beauty – let be!’

(Yakov Polonsky, trans Aron Goldin)

I play upon my little pipe,
I play upon my little pipe,
And gladden people’s hearts.

Along a quiet little stream I go,
Little lambkins quietly slumber,
Fields gently sway.

Sleep, oh sheep and lambs,
Beyond the meadows of red clover
Slender poplars reach to the sky.

A little house is hidden there,
Where a sweet girl will dream
That I have given her my heart.

And at the call of my tender reed,
She will come, as if with radiant purpose,
Through the garden, through the fields.

And in the wood, beneath the dark oak,
She will wait in languorous delirium
As the earth falls asleep.

I shall meet my beloved guest,
I shall kiss her ‘til morning comes,
Assuaging my heart with caresses.

And once we have exchanged rings,
I’ll send her back to the little sheep,
To the garden where the poplars are slender.

(Igor Severyanin, trans Philip Ross Bullock)

Nothing in the world
Is desired more than a dream:
There is some charm about it,
Some peace,
Neither sadness nor laughter
On its lips –
And in its bottomless eyes
There are many secret joys.

It has two wide, wide wings –
And light, so light
Like a midnight haze.
How, oh how does it carry you –
Whither? on what?
For it will not flap its wings,
And it will not
Move its shoulder.

(Fyodor Sologub, trans Aron Goldin)

All is well here...
Look, in the distance
The river glows like a fire;
The meadows are like a colourful carpet,
And there is the whiteness of clouds.

There is nobody here.
All is quiet…
Here I am alone with God.
And the flowers, and the old pine,
And you, my dream…

(Glafira Galina, trans Philip Ross Bullock)

The fields are still white with snow,
But already there is the sound of spring in the waters –
They run along and wake the sleepy banks,
They run, and glitter, and proclaim…

They proclaim in every direction:
‘Spring is coming, spring is coming!
We are the heralds of youthful spring,
Who sends us on ahead.

Spring is coming, spring is coming,
And the quiet, warm days of May,
Like some rosy, radiant round-dance,
Hurry along in its wake.

(Fyodor Tyutchev, trans Philip Ross Bullock)