Stefan Wolpe, Jerusalem, ca. 1935
TWO SONGS FOR BASS AND PIANO, 1938 (10:18)
1. Die Reichen Sich das Rechts Erfreuen (Michulás Dacisky von Heslova)
2. An Dich (Walt Whitman)
New Edition by Austin Clarkson (Stefan Wolpe Society)

These German songs stand apart from the many settings on Hebrew texts that Wolpe composed while in British Mandate Palestine (1934-1938). He did not set his mother tongue to music again until the mid-1940s. The song on a poem by the 17th-century Bohemian nobleman Michulás Dacisky von Heslova (1555-1626) is a call for social justice that resonates with several of the Hebrew songs he composed at the time. The second song is a wistful appeal for friendship from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1819-1892). The songs may have served as studies for the more extensive Hebrew settings. In the Heeslova song the voice proceeds from simple declamation to emphatic exhortation over successive elaborations of two basic chord structures. The Whitman setting is built on a set of ten chords, most of them triads. After the voice declaims the text, the “ecstatic” piano interlude improvises on the same set of chord changes. The voice returns with the same melody while the piano gradually fades out, leaving the voice unaccompanied for the last half of the poem. Wolpe was departing for America at the end of the year, and Whitman may have seemed like a kindred spirit welcoming him to the New World. The “Two Songs” are recorded by Matt Boehler, bass-baritone, and Ursula Oppens, piano (Bridge 9308).