Thursday, January 12, 2012

The goodbye guy

For some reason in the last couple of days I have become obsessed all over again with Schubert songs. I cannot stop listening to them. I think it started at work the other day when I had to listen to Werner Gura's new CD, "Willkommen und Abschied," for work-related reasons. And after that I could not stop!

It was like eating chocolate cake. You know, you keep shaving off another little bit.

That day it got to be a real problem. I got like this junkie, sneaking Schubert songs into my day, staring out the window and calling it work. I fell behind and had to stay late.

I should notify the Schubert Club!

Anyway. Up above is the song "Abschied," from "Schwanengesang." Werner Gura is singing it. I am getting to like Werner Gura because I like his quirky approach, also his pianist's quirky approach. The tempo of this song is a little fast for me but I do like how the pianist throws phrases at you in unexpected ways. I get the idea the two of them have a good feel for the music.

The idea behind "Abschied" is that a guy is leaving town and saying goodbye to everything, one thing at a time. He says goodbye to the cheery town, to the gardens, the trees, his girlfriend, the sun, as it sets, even the stars. The rhythm you are hearing is the trotting of his horse. Schubert loved to write the sound and feel of horses. That was his world. It is like the way blues musicians would work into their songs the sound of trains.

When the guy in "Abschied" says goodbye to his girlfriend he says, "But I will never turn my little horse around." That always gets at me.

The singer of Schubert's little song, is he cheery as he says goodbye, or is he brave? Also, the business about saying goodbye to the sun and the stars, and the weird and beautiful and unsettling key changes the song goes through -- that makes you wonder if the music is about something more than just leaving this little town. Schubert songs are like the paintings of the great masters. You can stand there and discuss them and look at them different ways.

Here is the Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau version I am married to.

But this is what I am working up to. There is this hilarious video I found of this song.


My sister is a German teacher and I keep telling her about this video and saying she has to use it in her classes. She keeps coming up with excuses. Chicken! It is great.

The girl makes the video. I love how she just sits there. And the guy's voice. You know what, you cannot tell me Schubert's songs were not performed like that many times in his lifetime, by guys in bars. Surely they were. Probably on occasion by Schubert himself. They were like Leonard Cohen songs are now, is my guess.

OK, that's it for today. Look for me tomorrow. One word...


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