For me opera came last. There was Bach first. And then came Lieder. "Die Blumen sind verstorben." I am perhaps too depressed for this. It is so intense. Afterward one should go out into the cold and cry. "Wo find ich gruenes Grass?" We have finally had some days of rain so at least the grass is green here. In California it's green in winter and brown in summer.
We have come to the one I know. "Am Brunnen vor dem Tore da steht ein Lindenbaum." I see the gate and the tree.
The idea of an art song came from Schubert. The idea is that the piano and the singer are one, that the song exists exactly as it is, that you, pianist and singer, must make it yours without altering even the smallest thing.
Before that there was tune and figured bass. Modern song making is much like that. Take this broad outline, these words and outline of chords and make of them your own song. It rises and falls with you and your imagination.
But with Schubert you have only your heart to make it music.
And Winterreise is the peak. We see the gray landscape he has painted and feel the emptiness of loss.
This is how German is supposed to sound. Think how easy it is to understand. The Lieder music is perhaps the closest to my own soul, touches my musical heart in its deepest place. It's as though to actually know Jonas Kaufmann would make it too personal. It is already too personal.
He is the singing artist of today and is at his peak now. We believe when he sings them the most bizarre things. Puccini even. But here he is at home in his own land, his own language, his own music.
He is singing about a crow that is following him. It's very creepy. I haven't seen very much written about this, so I will have to make up my own mind. I often reject Lieder recitals because it is not as I would have sung them. I only wish I could have made anything this perfect.