Schubert’s Winterreise Compilation

Leading up to the January 25, 2013, concert of Schubert’s Die Winterreise, we ran 24 posts in 24 days, on one song of the cycle per day. You will find all of them, in order, below, under the image we used for that concert. At the start, we have the two “teaser” posts that were published in the last two days of 2012, that set up the context for the rest.

winterreise post image copy

On this day in 1828, the second half of Schubert’s monumental work Winterreise (Winter’s Journey) was published. Schubert had been dead for a month. He had spent his last days editing the songs from his death bed.

Only a year before, he had gathered his friends together to hear his new song cycle… ‘“Come to Schober’s today and I will play you a cycle of terrifying songs; they have affected me more than has ever been the case with any other songs.” He then, with a voice full of feeling, sang the entire Winterreise for us. We were altogether dumbfounded by the sombre mood of these songs, and Schober said that one song only, “Der Lindenbaum”, had pleased him. Thereupon Schubert leaped up and replied: “These songs please me more than all the rest, and in time they will please you as well.”’ As told by Joseph von Spaun

We’ve come around again to cold, dark days of winter — 187 years later. What can one do with these shortening days and lengthening nights? Here is an idea — set aside 10 minutes each day between now and January 25, and come with us on a Winter’s Journey. Settle in for the story…

* * *

Happy New Year to All!

A new year’s question of the day: Can one be happy while listening to the saddest of music? If the music is Winterreise, then yes, sublimely so!

“It is not surprising to hear of Schubert’s haggard look in the Winterreise period; but not depression, rather a kind of sacred exhilaration… we see him practically gasping with fearful joy over his tragic Winterreise — at his luck in the subject, at the beauty of the chance which brought him his collaborator back, at the countless fresh images provoked by his poetry of fire and snow, of torrent and ice, of scalding and frozen tears. The composer of the Winterreise may have gone hungry to bed, but he was a happy artist.” Richard CAPELL, Schubert Songs, Surrey: The Gresham Press 1973.

Tomorrow we begin our journey…

1. Gute Nacht (Good Night)

The first song of Schubert’s Winterreise begins with a farewell.

With “Good Night,” the unhappy one sets out on his long and sorrowful winter’s journey, bidding farewell at night to his sweetheart and his town, and departs with only his shadow as a companion.

* * *

Two clips of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, one of the world’s greatest lieder singers (who passed away last year.) One is vintage, a lovely old black and white, scratchy but beautiful, from 1966 recorded live with Japanese subtitles! The second has photos and snowy scenes, along with the text in German and English. You choose.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tc_GCguYgHw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7PR2AfCvUw

Ok, I can’t help myself.  Just one more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYGUAjvCVm0

South Korean Bass, Kwangchul Youn. “Mr. Youn was born outside the provincial capital of Chungju in South Korea. His parents grew rice then; now they grow apples. ‘My village was very poor,’ he said in German. ‘There was no electricity. We read by lantern light. In school I learned the names Bach, Mozart and Beethoven but heard nothing of their music.’” By MATTHEW GUREWITSCH, New York Times

2. Die Wetterfahne (The Weathervane)

In the second song, The Weathervane, we find out what has happened — why the unhappy one is leaving town. We hear in the piano and in the voice the whirling of the weathervane on top of his beloved’s house. He realizes with anguish that this fickle weathervane, blowing this way then that, should have warned him of the fickle maid inside. But, no, none inside the house cares for his suffering, not even the parents who liked him so well; the daughter is now a rich bride!

* * *

Sung by Peter Anders, accompanied by Gunther Weissenborn

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=421NZByH1yY

Or perhaps you’d like to try some Karaoke? Well then, here you go…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJOpplTbt-o

3. Gefror’ne Tränen (Frozen Tears)

As the unhappy one wanders he suddenly realizes that there are frozen drops on his face. How could it be that he did not know he was weeping? And are the tears so luke-warm that they quickly turn to ice? How could that be when they spring from a burning heart that could melt all of winter!

* * *

Fire and Ice, that is what Schubert paints in the sound-world of this song. And with it, the halting labor of trudging through snow, the delicate dropping of tears, and the warm remembrance of spring. Genius!

Two clips for you here.  The first of Thomas Quasthoff and Daniel Barenboim.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITAlGYJoFu4

If you have never heard and seen Quasthoff, you may be surprised when you see this clip. He is just over 4 feet tall and doesn’t have usable arms. His singing speaks for itself, but I’ll also let him give you some of his own insights about his career. “Today, I can say in all honesty that there was certainly a bonus for being disabled… But you only get it once. After you’ve appeared 10 times at the Hercules Hall in Munich, and perhaps thirty times at the Philharmonic in Munich and 20 times at Carnegie Hall in New York, people no longer come to hear you because you’re disabled, but because they like to hear you,” he said.

A second clip… the great German Mezzo soprano, Brigitte Fassbänder
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXaqap7GOAw

I heard Fassbänder in Augsburg in the early 90’s sing Winterreise. When I heard that she, a mezzo was singing it, I thought “Well., that is novel! I’ll go and hear it… but I KNOW I will not like it nearly as well as with a baritone.” Wrong. I sat alone in the dark hall and was completely undone by it. I started to weep at the first line she sang and didn’t get a grip until the 5th or 6th song.

4. Erstarrung (Numbness)

With the numbness brought on from cold and from his inner grief, the unhappy one searches for any trace that he and his love once wandered the field where he is walking now. He searches in vain for a remnant to take with him from that place, but instead he carries away only her frozen image in his heart.

* * *

I am no composer. But if I were, I don’t think it would ever have occurred to me to set this poem with this kind of ferocious driving pace. The poem “sounds” quiet and almost like an elegiac pastorale, if those words can go together. But Schubert heard it differently, and introduces this unrelenting pattern in the piano that makes your heart race along  with the singer almost in a panic.

Hans Hotter, Bariton, Gerald Moore, Klavier
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyKc95avdLI

Martti Talvela (Bass) – F.Schubert – Winterreise “Erstarrung”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exsxzt9xY8w

Piano Solo realization by Liszt, played by Leslie Howard:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7lyN5BeqJg&playnext=1&list=PLAD57B4A28957353B

5. Der Lindenbaum (The Linden Tree)

The unhappy one passes the beautiful Linden tree, under whose branches in former, happier times he had dreamt many a sweet dream, and into whose bark he carved many loving words. He passes it now in the dead of the cold night and though he hears it beckoning to him to lay down again and find rest, he closes his eyes and rushes past. A fierce wind comes up and tosses the hat from his head but he doesn’t even turn back.  Hours later he can still hear the gentle tree calling him: “Here you could have found peace!”

* * *

To me this is an utterly perfect song — one of Schubert’s most sublime, even considering that he composed nearly 900 of them.

Here is an unusual rendition, and in its way and in its setting within the context of the movie, it is quite something:

A movie scene from “Die Trapp Familie” (1956)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EB68QF1NZsk

A second, more traditional recording of Heinrich Schlusnus, baritone and a pianist, whose name is, sadly, unrecorded.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2mJZZDm5jw

This touchingly simple and beautiful rendition is by a German baritone contemporaneous with the Von Trapp family singers. He somehow recorded countless art songs during the dark era of the Third Reich.

6. Wasserflut (Torrent)

The unhappy one sees that his tears have made deep crevices in the snow. As it breaks apart and melts, he asks the snow, where are you flowing to? Take my sorrow with you and when you flow past the home of my beloved you will feel my hot tears in your waters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muta5ozHfIo
Winterreises are happening everywhere, all the time… A home-made video of a singer I don’t know, recorded live. This very decent singer has only had 68 viewers — let’s get those numbers up!
Thomas Skambraks-Bass-Bariton
Naomi Shamban-Klavier

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZSX4aybi7w&playnext=1&list=PL83D3DCA2DA71E06C&feature=results_main
Here is a young Hermann Prey recorded in an intimate studio setting. And for those Italian speakers among you, please enjoy the subtitles!

7. Auf dem Flusse (On the River)

A haunting address of the unhappy man to the river:
Once you were so restless, but now so icy still, imprisoned. I shall take a stone and carve on your cover the name of my beloved and a date and a time; the day I first met her. I shall encircle it with an unbroken ring.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy3fLQbxsK0
Hans Hotter, Bariton; Gerald Moore, Piano

8. Rückblick (Looking Back)

It feels like I’m walking on fire, though underfoot is ice and snow…
How different when I arrived…
A Linden-tree whispered in the breeze
The murmur of the sparkling stream.

A spell was cast upon my heart, from a beautiful maiden’s eyes.

***

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEZn9xglSgk
Ryan McKinny, Bass/Baritone; Sharolyn Kimmorley, Pianist

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUKLfvkVN18
Does anyone know who this is?

A lovely guitar rendition:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2lAysJCB1w
Korina Vougiouka plays Rückblick from Schubert’s Winterreise in a solo guitar arrangement.

9. Irrlicht (Will-o’-the-wisp)

The unhappy one follows a will-o’-the-wisp into a chasm. He reflects that by now he is used to meandering without a path or a plan… Every stream will find the sea, every sorrow will find its grave.

* * *

I had to look up “Will-o’-the-wisp”. Wikipedia tells me it hails back to medieval times; to paraphrase, it is this ghostly light seen by travellers at night, especially over marshes, recedes when approached, and draws one away from safe paths. The first thing you hear in the song is the piano laying out with somber chords the nocturnal forrest. Then, like a musical will-o-the-wisp, the singer traces a melody that is haunting and elusive. The man sadly, and with resignation, begins to follow. It’s curious; the melody is not the kind of tune you will leave the hall humming, but at the same time, it is a song you will likely not forget.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-quT-AlBDA
Joseph Greindl, bass
Herta Klust, piano

I really appreciate the starkness of this rendition. Even the recording sound is dry and lonely. The words of the poems are thrust into the fore.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEec385elEY

With this recording from 1972 with Barry McDaniel, baritone and Aribert Reimann, piano you can see the German and the English text, stanza by stanza.

10. Rast (Rest)

For the first time the unhappy one notices how weary he is. It was too cold to stay still, and indeed the storm had been blowing him along his way. But now he finds shelter in the coal burner’s hut and there lies down to rest. Alas, in the quiet and in the rest, he can now feel all the wounds on his body, and the sharp sting of the worm that rages within him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFbBXEvMIS4

What a joy to share with you this historic recording… Peter Pears, tenor and Benjamin Britten, pianist (and composer) in a beautiful rendition of Rast… What follows tomorrow is a video of excerpts from Winterreise including the song that comes after “Rast,” “Frühlingstraum”, sung and discussed by the two greats, Pears and Britten.

11. Frühlingstraum (Dream of Springtime)

In his dreams the unhappy one sees May flowers, green meadows and hears the songs of birds. But when he awakes, all is cold and dark and the ravens shriek overhead. His dream is mocked, that of requited love, a beautiful girl, bliss and happiness. Alone, he thinks of his dream and his warmly beating heart. Oh when will the leaves turn green?  When will he again hold his beloved in his arms?

* * *

Another one of the great, great songs of the Schubert, “Frühlingstraum”. Just the first measures in the piano are enough to break your heart into a thousand pieces. Its appreciation is widely flung… On one of the art song translation sites, this song is translated into English, Spanish, Hebrew, Dutch, Italian, French, Catalan, Korean and Frisian.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl58oW5PI1k
Roman Trekel (Bariton) / Hideyo Harada (Klavier) Konzert in Tokyo 2005

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFaH-Kb2HD0
Peter Pears & Benjamin Britten discuss “Die Winterreise” – 1968.

12. Einsamkeit (Loneliness/Solitude)

The unhappy one finds himself quite out of sync with nature and his environs. The sky is bright blue; gentle breezes are blowing. He is on a busy street, but no one notices him. How can the world be so fair, the air so tranquil? Even the worst raging storm could not find him in such despair.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmhvPzTZbAM
Hans Hotter, Bariton
Gerald Moore, Klavier

With Einsamkeit, with Solitude, the first half of Schubert’s Winterreise comes to a close. These first 12 songs were composed in February of 1827 and were published shortly after. Schubert did not take up pen again until October of the same year to complete the cycle. Some scholars say that he didn’t know of the extended version of Müller’s “Winterreise” until after he completed the first group of songs. In that scenario, Schubert discovered them, and, as his last major opus before his death, set out to complete Winterreise as we know it today. Whatever exactly happened, we know for sure that after Einsamkeit his journey wasn’t finished.

For an interesting and scholarly read on the poetry and music see Transcending the Self, A Program Note to “Winterreise” by Thomas Hampson & Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold:
http://www.thomashampson.com/category/winterreise/

Here is a taste…. “.[Winterreise is] a journey motivated by inner time — a symbolic series of stations that are more mindscape than landscape. More than anything, Winterreise is a dream vision, the Wanderer’s journey through mind and heart into the depths of the soul.”

So while we are on the subject of Thomas Hampson, here is his version of Einsamkeit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz9TaK4Iy4s

13. The Post (Die Post)

In 1815 Müller, the poet of Winterreise, wrote in his diary; “I can neither play nor sing, yet when I write verses, I sing and play after all. If I could produce the melodies, my songs would be more pleasing than they are now. But courage! perhaps there is a kindred spirit somewhere who will hear the tunes behind the words and give them back to me.”   ~ It gives you pause, doesn’t it? ~ As if invoked in this diary entry, Franz Schubert, who was but 18 when Müller entered this in his diary, turned out to be that kindred spirit. And the cycle that was created by that union of words and “tunes” has become a high water mark in the whole history of art song. Once Schubert discovered that Müller’s Winterreise consisted of more than the songs he had first set, he sat back down to finish the work. For the 13th song, he composed “Die Post”.

As is “Einsamkeit”, for “Die Post” we find the unhappy one still in a city setting — no longer wandering in the forest. In the piano we hear the canter of the horse as postman brings the mail. The voice is full of unexplainable expectation, “My heart, why are you racing?” He knows the truth… there can be no letter for him. “My heart, my heart” he tries to calm himself… It is enough to know that the post comes from the town where his heart once loved so dearly. He will ask the postman if he has seen her.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myzKSfGmSu0

Time to hear another female singer interpreting a song of Winterreise. It is good to be reminded that a great song belongs to us all. In this clip the beautiful Spanish Mezzo Soprano, Teresa Berganza and pianist Felix Lavilla perform Die Post at the Aix-en-Provence festival in July of 1964. (Btw, this entire recital is on YouTube…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTszkVtfTCw

OK, all you purists, get ready to scream with this second one. That, or you just take a deep breath, and enjoy what is described as a “composed interpretation [of Winterreise] for tenor and small orchestra” from 1993 by Hans Zender. Personally, I like it.

14. Der greise Kopf (The Gray Head)

With “The Gray Head” we find the unhappy one wandering afield again. He sleeps out of doors, of course, and when he wakes in the morning, discovers that his hair and beard are gray with frost. It is pleasant to imagine that he is an old man, but no, the day comes. His hair is black again; he is returned to youth and to his sorrows. He must continue to wander.

This slow, inner monologue doesn’t seem to move forward in time. It is weary, weary. Not particularly tuneful, to me it is more like an accompanied recitative from one of the Bach Passions. A video for you: nothing to look at, but do listen! Peter Anders, tenor, so beautifully, soulfully sung it almost hurts. Recorded in the 40’s.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CNf03fZIK8

15. Die Krähe (The Raven)

The unhappy one notices that a raven has been flying with him since the day he left the town. It is an ill omen… “Raven, will you never leave me? Do you circle in hopes that I will become your prey? My strength is failing, my journey cannot last must longer. Surely death will soon overtake me.”

This has always been one of my favorite songs of Winterreise. I love the chromatic, ominous melody that circles over the walking notes in the piano. Two serious recordings for you, and one bit of ridiculousness. My favorite recording is actually the great German Soprano, Lotte Lehmann recorded with Paul Ulanowsky at the piano in 1940. I even love the scratchy noises and the hollowed recording quality. The tormented climax is heart-stopping.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCt2I8io0Qw
Lotte Lehmann sings “Die Krähe”
Piano: Paul Ulanowsky. February 26th, 1940.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lT2VrfZxaw
Thomas Dobmeier, Bass. Piano: Martina Hußmann. “Die Krähe”
A beautiful rendition by bass Thomas Dobmeier. You just get to stare at his face, but I think it is enough to hear such a lovely timbre sing this great song. Note how much faster the tempo is than the Lehmann recording.

As promised, we now go from the sublime to the ridiculous… here are three goofballs who take a stab at Die Krähe, sort of. This is just by way of letting you know that Winterreise is alive and well among the youth of our time and that no, nothing is sacred.
Here goes… Three pianos, a mike, a saxophone, an interpretive dance and some really bad Schubert…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pC40DH1-sg

16. The Last Hope (Letzte Hoffnung)

The unhappy one is taking his rest beneath a tree in the frigid winter. In a dream state, he stakes his “Last Hope” on one leaf that is precariously hanging from a winter branch.  When the breezes blow he trembles with the fear that it will not be able to hang on. If it lets go, so too will he not be able to hang on to his hopes. All will be lost.

* * *
This is one of the strangest, most modern sounding of all of the Winterreise songs. The piano intro is sparse, uneven and unpredictable. The notes sound almost stabbed at and the whole thing feels cold and desperate. I get the feeling that Schubert was in a dream state himself when composing this.
It is worth a good, thoughtful listen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9ttbg-YRCQ
Franz Schubert Winterreise 16 Letzte Hoffnung Jonas Kaufmann Helmut Deutsch. This is a very beautiful rendition.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mehhx2VjGZc
This one is posted without performance credits. Does anyone know who it is?

17. Im Dorfe (In the Village)

This next song is also nocturnal. The unhappy one seems to be lurking on the outskirts of the town. The mood is somber and a bit menacing with the growling dogs heard (in the bass of the piano.) He imagines the sleeping villagers, each dreaming as his own soul dictates — of good or of evil. For him there is no rest, all his dreams end in tears. Why should he linger here?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQwLnJ5AWQE
Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten again, but with this one you can look at the music as it passes by. (I always find it interesting that a composer creates the ephemeral world of his/her song with this kind of road map.) In this version the dogs sound far off in the distance, and the mood is hushed. The melody tenderly lays atop this sound-scape, as Randall Scarlata points out, like a lullaby.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2L8jxRqD0Y
Here is an Italian art film of Werner Herzog’s “Of Walking in Ice” that uses Schubert’s Im Dorfe as background music. The nightscape is gone, video superimposed over video mimic the way thoughts become interwoven in our heads. A section of the book is read in Italian over all these layers.

18. Der Sturmische Morgen (The Stormy Morning)

It is morning and a huge storm is ripping across the sky. With its fiery red flames the sky and the tumult exactly fit the state of his mood. He sees his heart painted in the heavens… winter’s fury; cold and wild.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCaAsyA5pdE
Der Stürmische Morgen; Stefan Geyer, Bariton / Heike-Dorothee Allardt, Klavier

The compounded sleeplessness, fatigue and mourning is taking its toll… After two rather quiet songs, here comes an outburst; a one minute (or less) composed storm for piano and singer. I hope you enjoy this powerful rendition. Again, you can watch the music but this one is a facsimile — Schubert’s own manuscript copy! I wonder how long it took him to write this big, one-minute song…

19. Täuschung (Illusion)

A light does a friendly dance before the unhappy one. He follows it, observing the way it lures the wanderer. It is a merry trick that he is glad for. There is a bright warm house in the distance, and a loving soul is within… an illusion!

Schubert composed a sweet and tender waltz for this movement of Winterreise. It is no surprise that many have taken this tuneful song and made it their own…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG08vOUiY-U
First, we return again to Thomas Quasthoff & Daniel Barenboim, who with great charm render a respite from the gloom with this optimistic dance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrXhFm2NPqk
A lovely, non-traditional rendition here! Folk singer and political activist, Hannes Wader, singing “Täuschung” with guitar. Don’t miss this one, it is a good example of the reach and accessibility of Franz Schubert.

And now, in case you can’t get enough of the melody, here are two more instrumental versions: A Cello Rendition with Mischa Maisky & Daria Hovora and a Liszt Piano transcription with Leslie Howard
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aREBUhexw-o
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cVm-Z_tYHI

20. Der Wegweiser (The Sign Post)

By now the unhappy wanderer reflects that he is an outcast from society, by his own withdrawal from it. Why does he search out hidden paths where no one else goes on the snowy mountaintop? He sees signposts for cities and towns along the way, but he must wander, without rest — in search of rest. He sees but one real sign-post, leading him down the road from which no one has ever returned.

Another great song. I love the way the strophic form (repetition of melody while text changes, which is such a hallmark of Schubert) begins to completely fall apart in this song. So much so that by the last phrases, where he says he sees but one signpost, there is no melody at all. Only one repeating note insisting that he take the one road open to him.

Some really great video finds for you here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQqQi9Ak2fg
Richard Tauber from 1927! Fabulous Austrian tenor, Richard Tauber (1891 – 1948)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5xlUU3wtcE
Ok, I love this! First time we have seen this one…. a Jazz arrangement of a Schubert song from Winterreise, arranged for the Vienna Art Orchestra by Mathias Ruegg. Notice the trumpeter’s Schubert-esque jacket and sleeves in the close-up!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLdfRWftVQw
A rehearsal in Germany. I would like this studio. You’ll excuse the poor video quality to hear a very nice voice, and perhaps to see that there really is a different quality that emerges in a rehearsal situation. Hard to describe it, but when blue jeans are worn and one can move around and get the voice freed up, the “presentation” recedes and sometimes the song can enter in without affect. Johannes Effertz-Wolff (Bariton) & Claus Hennemann (Piano)

21. Das Wirtshaus (The inn)

The unhappy one has found himself fittingly at a graveyard. Here, at the cool inn that welcomes weary travelers, he will stop. But no, the rooms are all full. Fatigued enough to drop, and having taken on a mortal hurt, he must wander farther still… leaning upon his faithful walking staff.

* * *

Schubert has composed a perfect hymn in Das Wirtshaus. I encourage you to grant yourself an unhurried listen… There is a world apart in this gentle and healing song.

Two different baritones (two very different keys) for you to hear. Both are lovely, both are perfect for this song. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhsHKQtu0SE
Bringing you a very young and beautiful singer from Amsterdam, Henk Neven, who just recorded Winterreise. Hope you enjoy this gorgeous timbre and the sensitivity he brings to the song. Maybe he’ll come stateside soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blNEFmaU_Ls
German baritone, Matthias Goerne is really a special talent, both an opera singer and committed art song artist… and how. One particular week of his concertizing life: “For the week of November 12th–18th: on the 12th he will give a Brahms recital in Madrid; on the 14th, he will sing Beethoven’s ‘An die ferne Geliebte’ and Schubert’s ‘Schwanengesang’ at the Bath Mozartfest; on the 16th he will perform Bach Cantatas at the Wigmore Hall, and finally on the 18th he will present a most unusual programme at the same venue, Beethoven’s ‘Gellert Lieder’ and Schubert’s ‘Leichenfantasie’ followed by Wotan’s Farewell from ‘Die Walküre.’” (Melanie Eskenazi for Seen & Heard)

22. Mut (Courage)

Let the actual translation suffice for today:

If the snow flies in my face,
I shake it off again.
When my heart speaks in my breast, I sing loudly and gaily.
I don’t hear what it says to me, I have no ears to listen;
I don’t feel when it laments, Complaining is for fools.
Happy through the world along
Facing wind and weather!
If there’s no God upon the earth,
Then we ourselves are Gods!
* * *

Surely this must be the Anger stage of grief…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuTsLJSMCsU
Dietrich Fischer Dieskau and Murray Perahia in 1991
We started Winterreise out with a very young Fischer Dieskau, and here he is about 25 years later. How many times had Fischer Dieskau sung Winterreise by this time?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdC3b3ugk-A
OK, I am not sure why this Russian (I think) gentleman felt it necessary to be shirtless to post this video, but I am reposting. It is striking me somewhere between hilarious and touching that we are hearing “Mut” in Russian by an ordinary guy with a PC in his living room, singing close enough to the camera to see nose hairs if the camera were better, with no accompaniment except his own humming. You go, Mr. Nibelung!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVtwvTLfZs0
Hans Zender : Schuberts “Winterreise”
Eine komponierte Interpretation für Tenor und kleines Orchester (1993)
This in another movement of the reinterpretation of Winterreise by Hans Zender. I have to admit I like this very much. You may not.  Notice the snow flying in the face of the singer, making him try over and over again to get on with the song (in various keys). Notice his resilience, in spite. Notice how out of sync he is with the world around him.

23. Die Nebensonen (The False Suns)

I saw three suns in the sky,
Stared at them hard for a long time;
And they stayed there so stubbornly
That it seemed they didn’t want to leave me.
Ah, you are not my suns!
Go, look into someone else’s face!
Yes, recently I, too, had three
But now the best two have gone down.
If only the third would also set ! I will feel better in the dark.

* * *

So our cycle is drawing to a close. With The False Suns, Schubert composes another beautiful, solemn and sad hymn. It is a strange poem. We get the idea that reality is slipping away from the unhappy wanderer. He remembers the reason for his grief, but his surroundings become unreal and even nature itself becomes a menace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UELG89Oxnac
Another touching, simple moment of an individual making his own music, for his own reasons. This one, seems like, from Korea. The notes says it is in tribute to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (the great artist who died last year, but who in his 50 year career, brought Schubert to millions all over the world.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZrcCk1Kyzc
Lovely recording with Steve Davislim, Tenor and Anthony Romaniuk, Piano.

24. Der Leiermann (The Hurdy-Gurdy Man)

Over there beyond the village Stands an organ-grinder,
And with numb fingers
He plays as best he can.
Barefoot on the ice,
He totters here and there, And his little plate
Is always empty.
Ignoring and ignored by all, except for the growling dogs
And he just lets it happen, As it will,
Plays, and his hurdy-gurdy Is never still.
Strange old man,
Shall I go with you ? Will you play your organ To my songs?

* * *

The last poem, the last song… the sad Hurdy-Gurdy man who appears, like a metaphor or a vision of what the unhappy one’s life has become. Numb fingers, empty plate, ignored, ignoring, but for the growling dogs. Another song you will not easily forget.

And now, to end the cycle and our time together sharing Winterreise, I am posting My Absolute Favorite: Jorma Hynninen, Finnish baritone with Ralf Ralf Gothóni at the piano. It gives me enormous pleasure to bring this to you. This is a clip of the last two songs of the cycle, so you will need to set aside seven minutes. I promise it will be worth it. It is recorded in a small room in Finland. Looks like a painter’s studio. The windows behind Jorma reveal a perfect snowscape. Occasionally the camera cuts to stark winter paintings, probably by the owner of the studio… but it also pans to see members of a watchful audience who seem to be holding their breath as I do when I listen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R35KRmCVsi0

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *