Three Lullabies to words by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz op. 48 (1922)

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Three Lullabies for voice and piano op. 48 (1922) share a close artistic kinship with Word Songs. The whole cycle reproduces the model of the leitmotif of Word Songs, or, to be more exact, the interval structure of its first segment from the song Green Words (F5-E flat5-C5-B flat4). It seems that Szymanowski was interested not so much in faithfully reproducing the motif, as in using the characteristic melodic phrase only in its model form (second-third-second intervals) so that further operations, such as defining and differentiating the size of the intervals, and permutations of the whole figure, come into the range of compositional technique proper. In Lullaby I the motif from Word Songs appears in a modified form (minor second – major third – minor second) and is used in full in the bass voice as an ostinato figure. Above it, in successively added voices, the composer made use only of the component intervals: the second in the middle voice, the second and third in the upper voice and – alongside other, less constitutive intervals – also in the vocal line. In Lullaby II the motif from Word Songs adopts the succession of minor second – minor third (augmented second) and major or minor second, while at the beginning of the piece the first two notes of this row appear in changed order. In the culminatory moment (bars 4-5) the composer again uses the interval figure from Lullaby I, imitating it numerous times, rhythmically tightening and widening the motif. We also find here a reflex of the leitmotif of Word Songs in its authentic interval shape, which appears as a reversed (and incomplete) melodic phrase and – at the end of the work – as a harmonic structure with an altered, “brightened” third. In Lullaby III this motif undergoes further transformation, so that here one can only discuss it in terms of its material-scale features. However, here also we encounter a melodic figure familiar from Word Songs, reproduced in the original and inversion form and displayed vertically .
In Three Lullabies we find other elements of the new style initiated by Word Songs, which have by now been assimilated. These are the modal figures in vocal lines (Lullaby I) and in the cadences (Lullabies I and III), the reflex of the folk rhythmic formula (mazurka-kujawiak) in Lullaby III (bars 8-33), the bourdon effect with tritone (Lullaby II) and fifth (Lullaby III), parallelisms of fourth-fifth and sixth chords and parallel major thirds ending with the fifth (Lullaby III), which later will take on the form of the basic accompaniment figure in Kołysanka Krzysi [Krzysia's Lullaby] from Rymy dziecięce [Children's Rhymes] op. 49. However, these sometimes minor and seemingly insignificant details are constantly present; they take on the character of specific compositional devices which work towards creating a style of sound based to an increasing degree on assumptions about national character.