Few novelties this year. We listened to fifty-five songs, more or less like every year (mostly because one year lasts what it lasts), but I only introduced seven new composers. If I focus on the most important composers I neglect the less known, and if I focus on the less known I neglect essential songs... no way to have it all. We have twenty-three new poets, eighteen new pianists and twenty new singers, not many. But half of the singers are sopranos and mezzosopranos! And only five of them are baritones! Am I recovering from baritonophilia? (rhetorical question). Those are the figures heading this post, what we’ve shared for the last four years: 228 songs / 69 composers / 126 poets / 120 singers /113 accompanists.
During the last weeks I made some small changes on the website, both aesthetic and functional; a birthday celebration is a good occasion to make an official introduction. There is a new cloud on the top, that's to say, the usual cloud updated by my friend and designer Joaquim Gamero. Thanks! I also rearranged the pages that link the series songs (for example, here the list of sad songs) and the page We listened to, which gathers all the songs I shared. When I first opened the blog, my idea was to list every song title, ordered by composers; This worked for a while but now we have more than two hundred songs and a unique list became too heavy to consult and manage. Now, you get to the songs by clicking on every composer's picture; it implies one more step but still, I think is more user-friendly.
The buggy list was ended last month, this year I'll end the Wilhelm Meister's songs series and a new list is ready. It will have twenty-six posts and could be named: "Liederabend contemplates her navel" but instead, I will use a more discreet name like "Liederabend's alphabet". As I said before, this anniversary makes me very happy (the third one, for instance, wasn't so important, don't ask me why); While I went over the old posts, I realized that there are recurrent names, ideas or images, either because they are repeated in the Art Song world or because they are my obsessions. I thought, then, of an alphabet series, with a post for every letter; every letter will be the first one from a word with an special presence on Liederabend. We're beginning next week, with "A is for..." And there's a problem with that: I thought my words in Catalan, and they usually change their initial when are translated into English. So... I hope you don't mind to learn a few Catalan words.
I also realized that there are some essential works that I inexplicably neglected. For instance, last time I posted a song from Dichterliebe was 9th May 2012. And it's not because I don't like it, on the contrary, I'm crazy about it. Maybe it's because it's a well-known work but 1) I know some of you are Art Song beginners and 2) it is always a good time to listen to Dichterliebe. Right now, for instance.
Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne (The rose, the lily, the sun and the dove) is pure energy. After the first two songs of the cycle, which are like a sigh, this brief burst of enthusiasm arrives. Before you listen, if the German language is familiar to you, read the verses of Heine, pay attention to the rhythm and alliterations. Don't you feel the excitement of this man? He is so much in love that declares that his beloved is more beautiful than the sun. With this poem, Schumann made a song certainly munter (lively), where he added as a last verse a repetition of "ich liebe alleine die Kleine, die Feine, die Reine, Die Eine". It might have become a tongue twister when this moment of joy should sound natural and easy... Barely thirty fantastic seconds, as the whole Dichterliebe is.
I hope you enjoy, whether it's the first time you hear Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne or you adore it. The performers are Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch; we haven't heard them for over a year and, believe me, it's not because I don't like them.
Die liebt' ich einst alle in Liebeswonne,
Ich lieb' sie nicht mehr, ich liebe alleine
Die Kleine, die Feine, die Reine, die Eine;
Sie selber, aller Liebe Bronne,
Ist Rose und Lilie und Taube und Sonne.
I loved them all once in the rapture of love.
I love them no more, for my sole delight
Is a maiden so slight, so bright and so white,
Who, being herself the source of love,
Is rose and lily and sun and dove.
(translation by Philip G. L. Webb)