Tag: Lieder

Schubert / Shilric und Vinvela, D. 293

Because I am nothing if not thorough, I listened to “Shilric and Vinvela,” D293. Here are Roman Trekel and Ruth Ziesak singing it:

What goes on in this song is as follows. Vinvela describes her lover, Shilric, who is a ‘son of the hills’ and a skilled hunter. She says that she will behold him unseen from a high rock, just as she first caught sight of him – the best looking among all his friends. Shilric hears this ‘voice like a summer wind’ and laments that he has left and sees her no more. ‘Then thou art gone!’ Vinvela replies. ‘I am alone on the hill.’ Shilric asks Vinvela to remember him and raise him a tomb. (It is as confusing as it sounds. Possibly the conventions of being in one place and not in another operated differently in the misty Gaelic past.) Vinvela promises that she will. They both seem certain that Shilric will die.

As we know, Vinvela ultimately gets the jump on Shilric as far as dying goes. But leave that aside for now. I am still figuring out what if anything I think about this song, and I think the way to go about this is to describe it.

It is in the form of a dialogue. This is a conversation, not a duet, which is significant. It is a series of little recits and mini-arias. Shilric and Vinvela’s voices never touch one another. Schubert could have written this so that the lines of the two speakers overlay one another, but he didn’t. Shilric and Vinvela might well be already apart, as the text suggests. In addition, there is often (if I am hearing this right) a key change when the text changes speakers, e.g. at 3.30 and 6.30. Musically as well as dramatically, the doomed lovers are in different places. These two are communicating with one another, just not in a way that allows them to be in the same place at the same time.

I suppose the argument, then, is that fate’s decree that poor Shilric and Vinvela will never experience a real duet (so to speak) is built into Schubert’s music. Whether this makes you care about Shilric and Vinvela or not is a separate question.

Schubert / Cronnan, D. 282 (and James Macpherson, about whom Samuel Johnson was probably right)

So, I was thinking about Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella. I should make this clear: I buy bootlegs of things only when there is no available commercial recording. Otherwise I cough up the money for the disc. Like Malin Hartelius, I am classy.

Anyway. I have been listening to my bootleg recording of Schubert’s opera, and I think I’ll have more to say about it later. Serendipitously, the score arrived from Interlibrary Loan on the same day that the CDs turned up in my mail, so I will have the advantage of actually knowing what the hell is going on in the thing. Bonus! Although I grow tired of the whole ‘soprano clef’ thing. Just. Put. It. In. Treble. Clef. Perhaps I will get used it, but the constant ‘remember that that is not an E, it’s middle C’ is driving me nuts.

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I’m still not sure this is actually a good idea / Berganza and Roeschmann sing Manuel de Falla

I am about to engage in a fairly bizarre analytical exercise in the service of what I hope is a slightly less bizarre one later.

There are things that you do not in the normal course of things expect to hear very often. Such as German sopranos singing de Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas:

This is another bootleg recital CD, and when I saw what was on it my reaction was: Beethoven – fine; Schumann – obviously; Brahms – oh, yes; Wolf – duh; De Falla – what? But it works. And in the context of this particular recital, it’s completely straightforward as a program choice. (The songs cluster around the theme of love and getting fucked over or otherwise disappointed by love. And she ends with Wolf’s Wie schon war immer mein Verlangen which is pretty much a perfect choice. Then again, if you listen to the BBC intros to each set and to the recital itself, you may come to suspect, as the BBC evidently does, that the pianist, Graham Johnson, is not only entirely responsible for the success of the program but is in fact the main attraction.)

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Why I am not currently employed as a translator

I was looking at the track listings of a disc of Schumann, Brahms and Schubert Lieder this morning. The first Brahms song was Feldeinsamkeit. I thought. . . field-aloneness? Is that a thing?

. . .and then like the clever person I am I consulted the actual translation in the booklet. Naturally, those people do better than I : Solitude in Summer Fields. Which makes more sense. (Although they got the ‘summer’ from the text, not the title. Otherwise it would have been Sommerfeldeinsamkeit which I don’t think is a thing, even in German.)