Tristan & Isolde – Act 3

There’s a fair few notes here…  and the passages I’ve picked out here are in because they really fly by!  The first few pages are there to lull you into a false sense of security.  Let’s just look at some of the more interesting tempo markings, in German & Italian:

  • Sehr allmahlich belebend – Animando molto poco a poco – OK…
  • Belebt, doch nicht schnell – Animato ma non troppo – getting a bit quicker.
  • Immer mehr belebend – Sempre piu animando
  • Bewegt – Con moto – things are really picking up now
  • Etwas gedehnt – Poco steso – OK, now you’ve lost me.
  • Sehr bewegt – Molto mosso.  erk
  • Sehr allmahlich langsamer werdend – Poco a poco ritard.  Just as well, ‘cos it’ll take you the ten bars at this tempo just to read the speed.
  • Massig beginnend, und schnell bewegter – Moderato cominicando e poi stringendo subito.

That little lot is just in the space of under 150 bars.  And I’ve missed a few out.

So.  The moral of this story is “watch.  No, I mean it.  Watch.  Watch until your eyes feel like they’re popping out, like Arnie’s were at the end of Total Recall.”

And, based on my experience of the last rehearsal, it’s all too easy to lose count in the few bars rest that you actually get…

And so, on with the notes…  nothing too bad early on in the scene.  However, over the page from the directions shown above, we get to bar 516:

A tricky little rhythm, but it only lasts for a couple of lines.

And a couple of pages later, we get this bit of out-and-out unpleasantness:

I like the tempo marking – “Etwas schleppend”.  Apparently that means “poco strascinante”, but I have no idea what that means either, beyond “watch!”

And then, at the bottom of that page, we have a few really quick bars, with a change of time signature every bar just so you can’t settle down:

A couple of pages later (nearly there!), we get this:  “Noch schneller”?  what?  You want more speed?  With another cockeyed rhythm?  Gah.

As for the remains of the piece…  well.

Act 3 – Scene 2 – the whole of the first page (60-odd bars) needs a look.

Act 3 – Scene 3 – most of the first 100 bars here.

You’ll just have to use the link I provided earlier to download the part and have a look for yourself, if you don’t believe me!


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