So, I had a conversation with my mother the other day. She likes the same kind of music as I do, but mainly chamber and orchestral material – vocal music less so. She was a competent pianist before she and dad sold the piano when they sold their house, and she played the flute for about 40 years in various chamber ensembles and community orchestras, so she’s heard and played a pretty wide variety of stuff. We’ve watched some operas together – she particularly liked the Claus Guth Don Giovanni.
She has issued me a challenge. She’ll make an effort to get into art songs (solo voice and piano). My job is to come up with about 20 minutes of such songs which I will then dropbox to her. I have developed the following rules:
1. No more than one song per composer.
2. Avoid too much sentimentality either in the material or the interpretation – acerbic wit or or direct emotion, but no treacle.
3. Balance of sopranos, mezzos, tenors and maybe even a baritone or two.
4. The more distinctive and different the voices the better.
5. Has to contain a song by Shostakovich.
6. At least one song in Spanish.
So far, I know that there will be something from Kasarova’s Schumann/Schubert/Brahms CD; the Shostakovich song might be performed by Magdalena Kožená; Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und -Leben” is off the table; Dorothea Röschmann is inevitable; Werner Güra will sing the Beethoven song; and I have a terrifying dearth of baritones in my music collection. But other than that it’s up in the air.