Saturday, September 12, 2009

Number One of Eighteen

First in Lotte's Eighteen Song Cycles is Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte. Like most things, Beethoven invented the song cycle.

I rather like this performance of it from 2008, which is by Peter W. Shea, tenor, and Monica Jakuc Leverett, fortepiano,. That instrument that looks like a harpsichord but doesn't sound like one is a fortepiano. If this is the type of piano Beethoven had, it's easier to imagine him beating it to smithereens. A comment explains that the lights are dim so the fortepiano doesn't go out of tune. A small light on Peter's face would help.

I like a number of things about this performance. The subtitles are nice, though unnecessary because Peter's diction is excellent and quite easy to understand. The sound of his voice is sweet.

One of the curiosities of learning German pronunciation at Indiana University was the really quite bad job that was done. I did a lot of Lieder, and I enjoy listening to my performances except for the painfully bad pronunciation. The Germans were having none of this. Jonas talks about having to learn to sing in German, but I doubt if he's available for lessons. Maybe Peter could help you out.

This tenor is not of the Lotte Lehmann school of interpretation. He seems to cast his eyes only on his crib notes in his left hand.

The cycle is just too long for a single YouTube film. A curious feature of this performance is the sudden burst of energy at the end of each film. But still, it's worth hearing.

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