One of the challenges with the ninth song in this collection, “Starke Einbildungskraft” (Strong imagination), concerns clarity of articulation. Sixteenth-note passages sound unclear with the piano part due to the imbalance of lower tones produced by both the piano and tuba. Changes have been notated in the tuba version to reflect these issues of clarity. Staccato markings and accents on the fronts of passages as well as the sixteenth-notes should ensure a clearer melodic line. The tubist could perform this work up an octave if he or she could achieve the desired clarity.
The shortest of the songs in this collection is a brief sweet conversation between a boy and a girl, but the simplicity of the melody makes it very musically challenging.
This little half-serious, half-teasing exchange between two teenagers (the boy goes under the charming diminutive of “Büble”) calls to mind the sparring couples found in many of the Tuscan rispetti on which Wolf’s Italian Songbook is based. The girl starts, poutingly voicing her disappointment: “Hast gesagt, du willst mich nehmen, sobald der Sommer kommt.” There is a pun here on “nehmen,” meaning (decently) to propose marriage and (more crudely) to tumble a lass – an ambiguity absent in the English “to take.” So when then Büble, in answer to her reproach that he hasn’t “taken her” replies “How should I take you when I already have you all the time,” he is equivocating, yet turns insolence into compliment by assuring her that whenever he thinks of her he feels he’s already with her: marriage bells are ringing though as yet in the distance. Mahler’s superscription “Sehr gemächilch, mit humoristischem Austruck” (“very leisurely, with humorous expression”) tells the pianist to observe the many mock-bumptious staccato marks, accents, and dynamic changes. The singer is faced with the tricky task of changing from girlish to boyish petulance, without sound downright offensive in either. It can be done!
“Strong Imagination”. Original German folk song: “Hast gesagt, du willst mich nehmen”.
Hast gesagt, du willst mich nehmen,
So bald der Sommer kommt!
Der Sommer ist gekommen, ja kommen,
Du hast mich nicht genommen, ja nommen!
Geh’, Büble, geh’! Geh’, nehm’ mich!
Gelt, ja? Gelt, ja? Gelt, ja du nimmst mich noch?
Wie soll ich dich denn nehmen,
Dieweil ich doch schon hab’?
Und wenn ich halt an dich gedenk’,
So mein’ ich alle weile:
Ich wär’ schon bei dir!