Monday, 30 August 2010

ROBERT SCHUMANN - Dichterliebe and the golden year 1840

Robert Schumann is one of my favourite musical authors, he was born exactly 200 years ago, but his music doesn’t really show its age. Chopin was also born 200 ys ago, but he’s not one of the composers I love most. For Schumann, instead, I always had a great admiration, so I thought to celebrate his birthday with one of his Lieder Cyclen (means a group of songs which make a cycle, all together, more or less like what today we would call a suite, but with pauses between the numbers), and it is “Dichterliebe”, opus 48, that means "Poet's love".

One of the things that characterizes Schumann – unlike all the other writers of Lieder - is the fact that he started relatively late with writing “songs”, because he simply discovered this capability all of sudden, at no less than thirty years of age...  So, in 1840, in a sudden (further) outburst of musical creativity, he started to compose songs one after the other, as tho he was caught in a feverish composing vein. Not only songs, of course, 1840 saw also the birth of many more works.
I would like you all to try to imagine, nowadays, someone who, in the narrow space of just ONE year time, manages to create an unbelievable number of masterpieces, songs and songs entwining one another, sometimes bizarre solutions, harmonical deviations, melodies and melisms structurally impossible to districate and always breaking through to further bold unexpected developments... In one word, this is Robert Schumann, who wrote material enough to record and print a minimum quantity of six LPs…  Does anyone know any other musician, as a similar example? Someone might name Frank Zappa now, yes,but Schuman was not stuffing tons of tapes with roundtheclock improvisations...
In the picture below, you can see a marvellous multiple album, on the French label Valois, published in 1966, a box of six LPs, named “The songs of 1840”, where two singers, Bernard Kruysen and Danielle Galland recorded all the songs that Schumann composed in 1840… only one year, but a golden one. To tell the truth, the collection is not complete, because by the end of this year, Schumann is reckoned to having ultimated (or started composing) about 140 songs... And this monumental box full of musical jewels gathers 130 songs.

"The Songs of 1840", Valois, published in France, 1971.

Needless to say, Schumann carried on and on writing songs, and of extreme high quality, but 1840 is an one-off item, a real milestone in his carnet of compositions.
I have many many versions of this song cycle, “Dichterliebe”, and considering that many of them are long long time deleted, and given also that – unfortunately, in my opinion! – the versions you can easily find in the shops are those of the same, omni-present and omni-encumbering Dietrich Fischer Dieskau (a singer who lets himself be called baritone, but he was always a kind of bari-tenor, whom I have always deeply disliked for his stubborn use of the falsetto instead of the real ”appoggiata” voice), here we go, I will give you the version of two or three real good Liederists, from vynil records which, as usual, you won’t find anywhere else on the blogs, and probably not even in many shops.

They are:

HANS HOTTER (recorded 1955, with Hans Altmann on piano, Preiser Recs.)
BERNARD KRUYSEN (recorded 1966, with Noel Lee on piano, Valois)
HERMANN PREY (recorded 1972, with Leonard Hokanson on piano, Philips)

Coming relatively soon


1 comment:

  1. Hello. I'm from South Korea, the country where Spirogyra's box set released years ago. I am crazy about Spirogyra. I was very glad to know that you have many valuable zip files in 4share.com. I happily downloaded your files but is has password. Could you let me know the password? I'm eager to listen to your recommended albums. My email address is hipgnosis@naver.com. I'm looking forward to your reply. Thank you.