Schubert's Gesang der Geister über den Wassern is based on a poem was originally written by Goethe. Its choral setting by Schubert is one of the most hauntingly beautiful works, evoking some of the sounds and stylistic effects of older choral works from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance periods.
Here are the first and last passages of the poem's text, translated to English:
"The soul of man
Is like the water:
It comes from heaven,
It returns to heaven,
And down again
To earth must go,
Soul of man,
How like to the water!
Fate of man,
How like to the wind!"
Roland Pidoux has translated this into a non-vocal setting by utilizing the rich melodic and harmonic textures of the cello to recreate the parallel between the imagery of water and the life / soul of man.
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