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Winterstuermer's thoughts on "The Valkyrie" microlude

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 3:56 pm
by alberich00
The impending Met simulcast of Tannhauser this month has finally roused me from my long intellectual slumber: I’ll be consulting your discussion forum for your thoughts on it. How the THE BOOK coming along?

Meanwhile, I’ve been having a few thoughts on the “microlude” that terminates the big Fricka/Wotan confrontation in die Walkure Act II and Alex Ross’ assertion that it is an exceptional passage, in that in never reoccurs again in the entire cycle. However, I had the nagging suspicion that this might not be entirely correct, because I had a vague feeling of having heard at least parts of it somewhere else. Upon speeding up the opening minor ascending passage, bingo!, there it was, in one of the utterances of the Valkyries, when they sing as a group in their entreaty to Wotan to spare Brunnhilde. Then, those ascending opening notes occur again, more slowly on the oboe, just before Brunnhilde launches into her “Reproach,” where it reoccurs periodically. So far, this “micro-motif” seems to be associated with reproaching female characters (reproaching the violation of the Truth?): the ascending notes act as a check to the descending Spear (Wotan’s authority) motif, which occurs in one of its “thwarted” versions, in conjunction to the “reproach” motif (although I seem to recall that Wotan sings an abbreviated snippet of it in the back-and-forth with Brunnhilde during the Reproach.

Re: Winterstuermer's thoughts on "The Valkyrie" microlude

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 3:58 pm
by alberich00
Dear Wintersturmer:

It’s great to hear from you.

When you say that this potential motival link with Ross’s microlude has ascending notes which act as a check to the descending Spear motif (#21), which occurs in one of the thwarted versions, in conjunction with the Reproach Motif, I’m not sure whether you are linking this potential variant of the microlude to the Reproach Motif, or distinguishing it as its own motif. Are you speaking of Motif #96, which is the ascending phrase which counteracts Wotan’s descending Spear Motif #21 in the orchestra just before Bruennhilde’s reproach to Wotan in V.3.3, heard just after the Valkyrie sisters have run away? #96 I believe is what you call Bruennhilde’s Reproach. It culminates in a definitive version which is one of the most glorious orchestral outbursts of the “Ring” when Bruennhilde has finished offering Wotan her defense of her actions in trying to save Siegmund, I think. Another question: the primary motif associated with the Valkyries’ chorus in defense of Bruennhilde is #95, which according to Dunning is a combination of Siegfried’s Motif #92 (not the horn call #103, which is first introduced in “Siegfried”) and #88, the so-called “Annunciation of Death Motif.”

So I guess I’ll have to get clear on this. I can hear the microlude in my mind’s ear as I write this, and Ross is right to draw attention to it, because it has an astonishing effect.

We should definitely transfer this discussion to the discussion forum, with your permission.

Re: Winterstuermer's thoughts on "The Valkyrie" microlude

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2015 4:00 pm
by alberich00
Herr Heise,

…sorry for muddying the waters with my naming the beginning portion of the microlude as “reproach,” when there is already a motif bearing that name. It’s easy to get mixed up in this labyrinth of constantly mutating motifs. I can hear some relation of the Annuciation motif with the ascending portion of the microlude: thematically, it would make sense, since Fricka ultimately seals Seigsmund’s fate (death), not Brunnhilde or Wotan, so those ascending notes might be considered an embryonic form of the Annunciation. To underline this connection to a terminal fate, the brass blares out two repeated notes as the microlude wraps up, which are similar in effect to the two brassy repeated notes immediately following Hagan’s stabbing of Seigfried, and which pervades the Funeral March. Returning to the microlude, a drawn-out, somewhat melancholy or longing version of the Fricka motif wraps up the microlude (with the “death brass” blaring in the background). Is this to indicate that Fricka ultimately realizes that she is sealing the fate of the Gods and that she recognizes only too well what Wotan’s dilemma is, and that she is equally trapped by it and the progression of Fate?

Re: Winterstuermer's thoughts on "The Valkyrie" microlude

Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2015 6:29 am
by alberich00
Since it seems to be composed of several other motifs and is used only once in its complete form, I suppose the microlude could be considered a sort of mini-symphonic passage, like the intro to Siegfried Act III. Regarding my comment regarding Fricka’s nonverbal acknowledgement of Wotan’s dilemma through the microlude, I seem to recall a quote in Ross’ New Yorker piece, which essentially says “Fricka knows” (ie, all that is to transpire).