Showing posts with label Die tote Stadt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Die tote Stadt. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Today is the 20th anniversary of my mum's death. It still feels like yesterday. We miss her every day of our lives.

This is the Marietta Lute Song duet from Die tote Stadt by Korngold, sung in 1924 in Berlin by Lotte Lehmann and Richard Tauber, here rendered with superbly remastered sound. If you don't know the opera, it is all about coming to terms with loss. As Korngold's Paul discovers, you don't get over things. You can only learn to live with them, because there is no alternative.

If you want to see a video of the full opera, I can recommend a recently released DVD from Finnish National Opera - a production by Kasper Holten with stunning designs by Es Devlin, starring Klaus Florian Vogt as Paul and Camilla Nylund as Marietta.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

'Forbidden Music' - a vital read

Michael Haas's Forbidden Music: The Jewish Composers Banned by the Nazis is being published on 7 May and is an absolute must-read for anyone with an interest in setting the record straight about the nature of music in the 20th century. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first major scholarly book to address its specific question. I have a short feature about it in The Independent today.

Here to go with it is a spot of appropriate opera: Korngold, in longing-for-the-past mode. This is "Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen, es träumt sich zurück" from Die tote Stadt - the Pierrot Tanzlied, sung in this (unfortunately uncredited) production by [shock] a Pierrot. 

I'll never forget hearing Olaf Bär in Zurich having to sing this dressed in drag with basque, tights, six-inch black heels and butterfly wings, but that's another story.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Korngold for beginners

Yesterday at The Rest is Noise we had fun introducing newcomers to the wonderful world of Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Ben Winters of the Open University gave a fascinating talk about the composer's years in America; the two of us then had quite a wide-ranging discussion, and some interesting questions came from the audience. Later on, I took part in a "bites" session with a political economist, a film historian and an art historian; each of us picked a topic that involved America finding its voice in the first half of the 20th century. Mine was Korngold and opera; I played, among other things, an extract of Marietta's Lute Song from Die tote Stadt.

It's easy to think Korngold has been rehabilitated, especially now that I've been on his case for more than two decades, but after the talk several people wanted to know, wide-eyed and open-eared, what this opera was and where they could hear more of it. It's so beautiful, they said. Why do we never hear it? The extract was too short, they said. They wanted to hear the rest.

This is an aria, indeed an opera, for anyone who has ever loved and lost.

Here is an interpretation of Marietta's Lied from the opera film Aria (1987), with some exquisite shots of Bruges, where the opera is set. (Warning: involves a bit of arty nudity.)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Korngold tops ALL MUSIC bestseller list on Amazon!

So now, thanks to that daft Sun interview and maybe a bit of BBC Breakfast too, Nicky Benedetti's CD The Silver Violin has zoomed up to be the top bestseller out of absolutely everything in Amazon's music section. And what's on it? KORNGOLD.

Other nice, mostly film-associated stuff too, of course, but she has included two transcriptions from Die tote Stadt - Marietta's Lute Song and the Pierrot Tanzlied - and the EWK Violin Concerto is the centre of it all and inspired the disc, and I should know because Nicky told me so when I was doing the booklet notes. Go get it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nicky Benedetti takes Korngold viral

Nicola Benedetti's forthcoming disc The Silver Violin centres on the Korngold Violin Concerto. But just listen to the beginning of this video: that is, of course, the Lute Song from Die tote Stadt, followed by the Pierrot Tanzlied... How delicious it is to see our EWK enjoying this kind of exposure.

When I talked to Nicky for the disc's booklet notes, she told me that she thought Korngold had gone viral. Critics might not be supportive of the concerto, she remarked, but violinists are: they just adore playing it, and she's no exception. Having lain ignored for decades, the concerto is now easily accessible via the internet, and violinists can pick up on one another's repertoire choices at the click of a mouse. Bingo: suddenly enough recordings of the work exist for a 'Building a Library' about it on R3.

Meanwhile, I hope this blog has this week offered proof that it is perfectly possible, and perfectly OK, to like both Korngold and Boulez.