Franz Schubert: Das Fischermädchen (The fisher maiden)

11 05 2010

by Svadilfari (CC)

Ah, iTunes. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I have 70+GB of music files, but it’s a MESS. Sure, my popular music is easy enough to sort, but as many before me have noted, classical music is a very different story. Over the summer, I’m going to be resorting my library (which contains over 20GB of classical selections), and I’m going to try tunequest’s method (unless anyone out there has a better suggestion!)

As I’ve been going through my library, I rediscovered Bryn Terfel’s recording of Schubert Lieder. It’s a gem of a recording, and I much prefer Terfel’s Schubert performances to almost any other baritone. I could easily feature every song on the album, but I’ll simply refer you to the album, which is available in its entirety on last.fm

As Schubert wrote over 600 songs, it’s hard to be completely well-versed. I’d never taught “Das Fischermädchen” before (The tenth song of Schwanengesang), but heard it several times at juries this semester. It’s attractive and simple, with a rocking accompaniment mirroring the rocking of the sea.

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Vincent d’Indy: Lied maritime (Maritime song)

27 01 2010

"ghosts" by Naama, used under Creative Commons

It’s the beginning of a new semester, which means I’ve been busy assigning repertoire to my students. I have come across this piece in several anthologies and online, and I have been tempted to assign it, but for lack of familiarity, I’ve avoided it. Additionally, I am so fond of Vincent d’Indy’s orchestral music that I didn’t believe a song this simple could stand up to those works I so enjoyed programming when I worked in classical radio. I was wrong to have doubted d’Indy, as this song is lovely!

The song is in two halves. The first half is calm and rocking, just like the calm sea; the lover looks at the closed eyes of the beloved and feels calm, like the sea. The second half is much more frantic, with rising and falling arpeggios in the piano, and with unexpected pitches and chords in both the voice and piano. The stormy seas are echoed in the troubled heart after looking at the “traitorous eyes” of the beloved.

Any time I get to feature Counter-tenor extraordinaire Philippe Jaroussky, I’m happy. This performance lacks some of the warmth and vocal agility that I tend to associate with him, but it’s still quite striking.

No translation on recmusic.org (though one is provided in the front of the commonly available “40 French Songs, Vol. II” by International). No videos on YouTube. I think this needs to be remedied, tout de suite!





Emmanuel Chabrier: L’île heureuse (The happy isle)

1 05 2009

"We are the monarchs of luminous maritime deserts"

This song positively sparkles! The light glints off the water while the boats rock gently in the waves. Amid this scenery painted by the piano, the voice moves very much like the impassioned lovers it represents — at times impulsive, at others, tender and caressing.





Giuseppe Martucci: Cantava il ruscello (The little brook sang)

30 04 2009
O... la pace fedel de la foresta!

O... la pace fedel de la foresta!

For me, Martucci’s song cycle La Canzone dei Ricordi (The Song of Memories) was a wonderful discovery. These beautifully crafted songs call to mind the music of Puccini, and it surprises me that they are not performed more often. The second song, presented here, with its undulating harmonies in the accompaniment suggest not only rushing water the title might suggest, but also the spring breezes, and even the underlying emotional excitement that comes with the arrival of spring.

New translation behind cut:

Read the rest of this entry »





H.T. Burleigh: Deep River

25 03 2009

Red River Flooding #1, by Cobber99 (CC)

The Red River flooding is on my mind today. I recently sang with Fargo-Moorhead opera. I have friends in Fargo. My parents are from Bismarck/Mandan, where the Missouri is flooding, too.

I woke up with this song in my head this morning and found it comforting. “Oh, don’t you want to go…?” Yes, I do. But I must stay home and work on finishing my doctoral thesis. My thoughts and prayers go out in support of those living and helping in these communities.

Deep river, my home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into camp ground.
Oh, don’t you want to go to that gospel feast?
That promised land, where all is peace?





Charles Tomlinson Griffes: An Old Song Re-sung

23 03 2009

I

"The summer wind was failing and the tall ship rolled"

A grand pirate ship sails by and the crew drinks merrily. For whatever reason, the ship begins to sink, but the crew takes no notice. Finally, the ship goes under and only the floating bottles remain, clinking against one another. Griffes captured all these moments deftly in this gem.

As a young singer, I patterned my voice after singers I liked the sound of. Before formal study, it was David Gayne of Depeche Mode; when I started singing in earnest, I copied Thomas Hampson, to the point my teacher regularly reminded me, “Stop trying to sound like him!” This piece shows well what I liked about him — the dedication to the text paired with a warm but powerful vocal instrument capable of an extremely wide range of dynamics and colors.





Nikolai Karlovich Medtner: Chto ty klonish’ nad vodami / Что ты клонишь над водами (Willow, why forever bending?)

11 03 2009
Every leaf languishes, trembling above the water

"With quivering leaves like greedy lips... every leaf languishes, trembling above the water"

This song is sensuality in text and music — Medtner captures both the willow’s yearning and the flowing water that will never be caught.

Hearing Russian vocal music is rare enough in America, usually limited to Rachmaninoff and Tschaikovsky. Medtner’s works are every bit as virtuosic and rewarding for both performers and listeners, and merit closer study. His works are available on IMSLP, and I encourage singers and pianists alike to dig in!