During these years (and, new readers, these are the figures in the title), we heard 332 songs from 87 different composers, with poems of 164 poets; They were performed by 153 singers accompanied by 148 pianists (in fact, not really; there are songs with orchestral accompaniment and some other with viola, guitar, lute,...) The number of songs is not significant, it's marked by the weekly posting. But the number of composers attracts my attention: during our seventh year, we could reach 100 composers! Not that I'm seeking new names in books or recordings; on the contrary, there is a waiting list. For example, one of the jotted Christmas songs is by a composer we haven't heard yet. Poets and pianists are chosen by composers and singers, and we've listened to over 150 singers so far, even though some of them (yes, baritones) take up many songs. Not bad, when we're dealing with a genre that for many people is fatally wounded. I should add that, for the first time, most of our new singers aren't baritones, just five out of sixteen. And even more surprising: among these sixteen singers, there are nine women! Am I recovering from baritonephilia to get ill of sopranitis?
I thought of starting a new series, but finally, I didn't because of the long series devoted to the alphabet; We already reached the letter P and, except for last minute changes, it will be over when we celebrate the eighth anniversary. But we had a very special series, in collaboration with the ESMUC's Master's Degree: five students of the subject "Genre Literature. Repertoire of the German Lied" wrote an article for the blog; you can read them here.
There is something not directly reflected on the figures that made me think about it, because I didn't realise during the year: three out of four songs we heard were in German. There's a clear reason: I spent the year absorbed by Lied in general and Schubert in particular (by the way, today it's his birthday, he's 221!); First, with my course about Lied, "El lied, a gènere proper", then with the first season of Schubert Lied and the new course "Franz Schubert, song writer"; this also explains why half the Lieder we heard were by the apple of my eye. I hope you excuse me if I overwhelmed you with so many German songs.
This tendency should change soon because a new course dedicated to the French and English song is planned. It's called "De Fauré a Britten"; these two composers mark a well-defined period, but if you look at the course programme you'll see that we're also devoting some time to the song before Fauré and after Britten. The whole course will take us only six weeks but, according to the previous courses, we're listening to about fifty songs, a whole year of Liederabend! Of course, the last day I'm talking of Leonard Bernstein, he will be one of the American composers. Today we're listening to him, too; we're beginning to celebrate his 100th birthday.
The song I chose is When my soul touches yours, one of the Two Love Songs that Bernstein composed from two poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, using the English translation that the poet Jessie Lamont published in 1918 (curiously enough, our first Rilke is translated). Those songs were written in February 1949, and the composer dedicated them to Jennie Mourel, as he did with I hate music. The first of them, Extinguish my eyes, was released a few weeks later, in March, but the second one, When my soul touches yours, wasn't released until 1963. As the title of the minicycle says, they talk about love, deep and passionate love. I hope you like the performance I chose, that of Roberta Alexander and Tan Crone.
When my soul touches yours a great chord sings:
How can I tune it then to other things?
Oh, if some spot in darkness could be found
That does not vibrate when your depths sound.
But everything that touches you and me
Welds us as played strings sound one melody.
Where, where is the instrument whence the sounds flow?
And whose the magic hand that holds the bow?
Oh, sweet song, Oh!