Ikh hob a shvalb gezen 03:19
Mit a nar 01:49
Dremlen feygl 02:44
Vayber 02:53

Liner Notes

Four songs from Helen Greenberg’s cycle Froyen shtime (Women’s Voices) are presented here. In Ikh hob a shvalb gezen (I Have Seen a Swallow), to a poem by Dora Teitelbaum, initial naïve expectations of inextinguishable, irreversible romantic love or its reciprocation are defused by the reality of change of heart, finiteness, and mortality of feelings. The swallow that the speaker thought would continue in flight forever has her heart wounded in flight; a rose she thought might bloom forever is eventually plucked; a flourishing tree is eventually bent by a storm; and the dream she allowed herself to spin comes to an end. Yet her childlike, trusting spirit allows her to be “ready to love again.” In Mit a nar (With a Fool), the poet Malka Heifetz Tussman reminds us of the ramifications and dangers of consorting with fools: “With a fool I am more foolish than the fool.” Dremlen feygl (Dreaming Birds), to a poem by Leah Rudnitzky, is a lullaby in which the mother refers to a stranger sitting by her child’s cradle and singing to him—or helping to sing to him—to sleep. She is singing from afar, perhaps from death. The child’s father, too, is absent—perhaps killed in battle: “I have seen your father running under a hail of stone, his desolate cry flying over fields.” Vos tuen vayber? (What Do Wives [women] Do?), a setting of a poem by Berta Kling, seems to be a woman’s lament about an unhappy marriage or an undesirable husband. One woman asks herself whether another, pretty one, would be “so radiant if she had a husband like mine.”

By: Neil W. Levin



Sung in Yiddish

1. IKH HOB A SHVALB GEZEN (I Have Seen A Swallow)
Poem by: Dora Teitelbaum
Sung in Yiddish

I have seen a swallow in flight.
I thought it would fly there forever.
I saw a rose in full bloom
And thought it would always flower.

I saw a tree in the meadow.
And I thought it would always flourish.
I once spun a dream
Which I thought would never vanish.

I am the swallow with the wounded breast,
The tree bent low by storms,
The flower plucked from the bush,
The dream with eyes wourn out from longing.

Deep in my heart a wind cries,
With seven anguished howls.
But I am trusting like a child,
And am ready, still ready to love.

2. MIT A NAR (With A Fool)
Poem: Malka Heifetz Tussman
Sung in Yiddish

What does a fool do with culture?
What does a cultured fool do?
With culture, he can destroy the world.
And strange–I can't be clever with a fool.
I become more foolish than he is.
I dread a fool,
and have no idea
How he attached himself to me–
The fool.

3. DREMLIN FEYGL (Drowsing Birds)
Poem: Leah Rudnitzky
Sung in Yiddish

Birds dose on the branches,
Sleep, my precious child.
By your cradle in your nest
A stranger sits and sings:
Lyu, Lyu...

Here your cradle had its dwelling
Woven with joy,
And your mother, Oh, your mother,
Never returns.
Lyu, Lyu.

I have seen your father running
Under a hail of stone,
His desolate cry
Flying over fields.
Lyu, Lyu...

4. VAYBER (Wives)
Poem: Berta Kling
Sung in Yiddish

What do wives do, What do wives do
In the evening?
Sit on benches, sit on benches
One observing the other.

They sit, they sit,
Their gazes wander;
They look, they ponder
One about the other.

One looks, one looks
At another and thinks:
It's not in her cards
To have my fate.

Another, another observes
A pretty woman;
And she thinks, and she thinks
Of her thus:

Would she, would she
Be so radiant
If she had, if she had
A husband like mine?

Sung in Yiddish

1. IKH HOB A SHVALB GEZEN (I Have Seen A Swallow)
Poem: Dora Teitelbaum

ikh hob a shvalb gezen in fli,
gemeynt zi vet dort shtendik flien.
ikh hob a royz gezen in bli,
getrakht az zi vet eybik blien.

ikh hob in feld gezen a boym,
gemeynt er't shtendik azoy shteyn.
ikh hob geshpint a mol a troym,
gemeynt ert keyn mol nit fargeyn.

ikh bin di shvalb mit vund in brust,
der boym fun shturem oysgeboygn,
di blum aropgerisene fun kust,
der troym mit oysgebenkte oygn.

tif in harts es veynt a vind,
mit kolos veyendike zibn,
nor gloybik bin ikh vi a kind,
un greyt nokh alts,
un greyt nokh alts tsu libn.

2. MIT A NAR (With A Fool)
Poem: Malka Heifetz Tussman

vos a nar mit kultur?
vos tut a kultureler nar?
mit kultur er ken khorev makhn di velt.
un modne: ikh ken nit klug zayn mit a nar.
mit a nar bin ikh nokh narisher fun nar.
ikh forkht zikh far a nar.
un ikh veys nit vi azoy
s'hot zikh tsugeklept tsu mir
der nar.

3. DREMLEN FEYGL (Drowsing Birds)
Poem: Leah Rudnitzky

dremlen feygl af di tsvaygn,
shlof mayn tayer kind.
bay dayn vigl af dayn nore
zitst a fremde un zingt:
lyu-lyu, lyu.

s'iz dayn vigl vu geshtanen,
oysgeflokhtn fun glik.
un dayn mame, oy dayn mame,
kumt shoyn keyn mol nit tsurik.
lyu-lyu, lyu.

kh'hob gezen dayn tatn loyfn
unter hogl fun shteyn.
iber felder iz gef/oygn
zayn faryosemter geveyn.
lyu-lyu, lyu-lyu, lyu-lyu, lyu.

4. VAYBER (Wives)
Poem: Berta Kling

vos tuen vayber. vos tuen vayber
in famakhtn?
zitsn af di benk, zitsn af di benk.
eyns s'andere tsu batrakhtn.

zitsn zey. zitsn zey,
zeyere blikn vandem;
kukn zey, trakhtn zey,
eyne fun der anderer.

kukt eyne, kukt eyne,
af a tsveyter un zi klert:
ir iz mayn marokhe
nit bashert.

an andere, an andere batrakht
a sheyne froy;
un zi trakht, un zi trakht,
fun ir azoy:

volt zi kenen, volt zi kenen
azoy shaynen
ven zi hot, ven zi hot
a man aza vi maynem?



Composer: Helen Greenberg

Length: 10:45
Genre: Art Song

Performers: Ruth Halvani, Mezzo-soprano;  Will Hancox, Piano

Date Recorded: 02/01/1999
Venue: The Warehouse (F), London, UK
Engineer: Hughes, Campbell
Assistant Engineer: Weir, Simon
Project Manager: Levin, Neil

Additional Credits:

Translation: Eliyahu Mishulovin


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