10 Hours Gives Us (Almost) All of Schumann’s Songs

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In 1988, he was Robert Schumann’s liar, who persuaded Christian Gerhaher, then a philosophy student in Munich, to ask Gerold Huber, a pianist he knew from school, if they could start playing some songs together.

Thirty years later, Gerhaher and Huber are already greatest partnership in singingand this month 11-disc box set Schumann at Sony. It includes “All Songs,” as its cover announces.

“Gerold and I have been working to sing Schumann for 33 years,” Gerhaher, 52, said in an interview. “He composed nearly 300 songs, but the amazing thing is that every song is incredible, an expression of possibilities, thoughts and beauty. Maybe there’s only one song I don’t like that much.” (Her “Der Handschuh.”)

Schumann had an ambiguous presence in the art song repertoire. while loops “Dichterliebe” cornerstones, most of their output is overlooked. Gerhaher can cite only two previous attempts for anything comparable to a complete set, none as consistent as the new version.

baritone Dietrich Fischer Dieskautaped, among the leading liar advocates of the 20th century about half of the songs in the 1970s. Graham Johnson, an accompanist with encyclopedic pleasures, compiled a very full set on it hyperion From 1996 to 2009. But he split the songs between different vocalists.

This makes Gerhaher the first singer to complete a complete survey on her own (although with the help of her colleagues in works written for music). female voice or for groups). Huber is at the piano from start to finish, and the goal is to finally give Schumann his due as a lyricist – “one of the best-read composers ever,” according to Gerhaher.

Gerhaher believes that Schumann took a much more literary approach to songs than Schubert, for example – an approach that aims to “make these poems even more complicated than they are”. He did this not only by revealing the tensions between text and music (and vocalist and pianist), but also by writing them almost entirely in loops, combining disparate poems into coherent sets.

This has always been obvious in loops like Eichendorff. “Liederkreis” (Op. 39) or “Kerner Lieder” (Op. 35). But it’s also true for less monumental groupings with innocuous titles like these, Gerhaher said. “Three Songs” (Op. 83) or “Six Songs” (Op. 107) — his texts (sometimes taken by the same poet, sometimes from different poets) are loaded with deeper, often darker meanings when put together.

“He doesn’t want to finish thinking about a poem,” Gerhaher said. “By putting them to music and then combining them in loops, he expands the semantic nature of a poem to create something very different and new. This is what I love.”

Schumann composed his songs with two spells. The first period from 1840 was seen as the essence of Romanticism. Although the latter was heard with suspicion, Gerhaher found him increasingly wealthy. Schumann wrote these songs from 1849 to 1852, shortly before jumping on the Rhine in 1854 and died in a mental institution two years later. Like many of his later works, his last songs sounded less clear to some, as ancient prejudices about mental health led to a misunderstanding of his experimental tones.

Gerhaher opposes, violin concerto and “Ghost Variations” As further proof that this view is wrong. “To say that the late Schumann was a mentally and spiritually weak, sick Schumann is a dangerous assumption,” he said. “The assumption that we understand one thing poorly is always combined with the assumption that we understand something very well. I think both are wrong.”

With this in mind, Gerhaher chose five late songs to promote her new record. Here are edited excerpts from his comments.

96 in operation, you have five songs. Two and four are very disturbing about human sadness. Third, in the middle, is an August von Platen poem explaining that words cannot convey what they are trying to convey. These three describe the dire condition of humanity: being thrown out into the world and not even being able to talk to each other properly.

There is another “Schneeglöckchen” (“Snowdrops”) In “Liederalbum für die Jügend” (Op. 79), it has a beautiful meaning here, because it marks the end of winter. But anonymous poetry Schumann here Op. 96 is harder to understand. A snowdrop sounds and says you have to go, the storm is coming. But why? the end of winter; The flower has nothing to fear. The voice answers that the snowdrop “Liverei” – his uniform – is white with a green trim.

Why is he talking about the uniform? I looked through some uniform books and found a similar one for a cavalryman. Scheither Corpspart of the Hanoverian regiment in the Seven Years’ War. A battle took place at Moys, near Görlitz, and the corps was defeated by Austria. There was an injured snowdrop rider and he couldn’t go home. And in poetry the voice sings you Have To go home. This is very irritating, even if I can’t prove the connection.

This last song, “Heaven and Earth”, is a resolution for Op. 96 cycles. First song by Goethe “Nachtlied”; It starts with the names “Gipfel” (“hills”) and “Wipfel” (“treetops”). This last one by Wilfried von der Neun, starts in reverse, with “Wipfel” followed by “Gipfel”. You encounter these oppositions, then you encounter heaven, and you find that these oppositions no longer matter; they come together. It reminds me of the medieval German philosopher Nicholas von Kues, who wrote about “coincidentia oppositorum”.”- meeting of opposites.

At first you will not understand this cycle at all. You see number one, “Die Tochter Jephtas” (“Daughter of Jephthah”) and number three, “Dem Helden” (“To the hero”). All three are Byron texts. What does that mean?

In 1847, Fanny Mendelssohn died, and soon after Felix Mendelssohn died, and Schumann wrote a little Byron in his poetry book. The first song is in memory of Fanny. The daughter of Jephthah was this warrior without a name; The king fought for his father but did not get a name. This was Fanny’s destiny: she was a composer but never made a name for herself. “To the Hero” is about Felix’s role in these years, especially for Schumann, the music’s great hero.

in the middleto the moon” It says, look, moon, you are some kind of star, but you are a cold star, because you reflect the warm light from the sun – you are just a memory, a sad, cold, harsh memory. This is how Schumann combined the deaths of his two friends.

This cycle is very abstract. You have three songs and they represent three ways to compose a poem. first song, “Resignation” The most advanced and created through; the second is a diverse strophic song; third, “Der Einsiedler” (“The Hermit”) is an excellent strophic song. Inside “The Flower of Resignation” you have five cups and in the middle of the third cup you see this word “Liebesschalen” (literally “love bowls”). This is the centerpiece of the middle part of these three songs, the creation of a third person by a couple. The continuation of this maniacal trend of Schumann to devise combinations cannot be faulted.

Kiss. 90 is perhaps my favorite cycle in general. There is a downward spiral. It’s too dark to accept the arrogance of the world and the sadness of being alone. We start with a frame song again, the song of a blacksmith who helps Faust on his travels, naively unaware that Faust is seducing his wife. In the middle are two song pairs that are examples of losing faith in life. NS fourth A great song about the loss of love and the taking over of death.

Then Schumann added this “Cry” as a lament for the poet Nikolaus Lenau, who he thought was dead but actually died on the day these songs were first performed. You have illusions of this eternity, of never-ending life. So full of emotion, a fusion of spirituality and sensuality.

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