Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Third Last Song



...requiring no superfluous comment from me.

11 comments:

Pseudo-Iamblichus said...

Ben,

You really shouldn't post things like this. It was beautifully painful to listen to, and made me more melancholy than I am now. This is why I try and steer clear of Romanticism in music. It works witchcraft on my Latin blood.

I recognized Rene Flemming, and I believe the conductor I believe is Dennis Russell Davies. I at first was not able to place the composer, then I think I vaguely remembered a title of a work by Richard Strauss that matched this one. And sure enough, after the first chords, I thought, "That's Strauss all the way."

Anyway, shame on you for almost making a Mexican man cry. That is almost unforgiveable in my book. But I will let you off the hook this time.

Anonymous said...

Romanticism is bewitching, especially for those such as myself who are given to luxuriating in vast symphonies of despair. I'm not entirely sure that is a vote in its favor.

Moretben said...

I think of the Four Last Songs as kind of summing up, or distilled essence of German Romanticism; and you're dead right, of course, both of you - there's no excuse for it. I always feel afterwards as if I ought to go and shower under a Goldberg Variation or several (TTony has some interesting things to say about this, I seem to remember). There's something about them too that remind me of another quite different, but equally inexcusable piece that makes me weep equally shamelesly - the Durufle Requiem - also out on the end of something, watching it go.

It's still an unanswerable reply to those who assert that the most significant thing about us is the 98% (or whatever it is) that we have in common with chimpanzees.

hilary said...

Gosh, I wish I had emotions they way you guys do.

Maybe it's because I'm a girl. We're not as sentimental as boys. I only cry at movies.

Still, Renee Flemming. Shwooph! Golly!

Ttony said...

Feeling extremely sorry for myself as I am stricken with a bout of labyrinthitis, I comforted myself yesterday with the Durufle requiem yesterday afternoon.

The point about Romantic music I probably made once is that it's all about "me": I am alone against the world, and nobody understands me. Beethoven managed to distil this into pure music and was copied more or less successfully for a century. But it's music deliberately aimed at your heartstrings rather than at your heart; at your emotions rather than at your mind.

Some of it is absolutely sublime: the Four Last Songs are on a pinnacle up there with Beethoven's late quartets. But if any Tchaikovsky manages to seep out of the radio, I'm up there to turn it off (or over) with the speed of Linford Christie.

Perhaps Hilary is being nice to us: maybe it's the adolescent in us that responds so well to music like this.

You've really got me thinking about the Durufle Requiem now: has he managed to orchestrate plainsong into Romanticsm (that sounds like an A Level essay question) or has he managed to extract from the plainsong something that unaccompanied voices can't convey? My instinct is to go with the former.

Tallis and Byrd for the rest of the afternoon, I think: time to grow up!

Anonymous said...

I have to second ttony's thoughts. Romanticism appeals to my inner lonely misunderstood boy. Combine that with the rejection of traditional christianity and you've got yourself one teary-eyed powder keg!

Does anybody have an opinion on Perotin? Any suggestions for more sobering stuff?

Jack

Anonymous said...

I must confess that I did not know who the soprano was or the conductor or the orchestra. I did know that it is Richard Strauss. Although his songs were written for the soprano voice I have a superb rendering of Morgan sung by a fine tenor, Steve Davislim and Fritz Wunderlich left us with a recording too. As in this Third Last Song, the solo violin tugs at the heart-strings too. The piano accompaniment simply does not have what it takes when compared to the orchestra.
Simply magnificent!

JARay

hilary said...

Perhaps Hilary is being nice to us

never a good assumption to make.

no, not safe at all.

hilary said...

...but I'm with you on Tchaikovsky. He's the Paul McCartney of his time. Gives me the willies.

Ttony said...

I have always put Perotin into the same sort of box as Hildegaard of Bingen or the Codex Calistinus: music for musicologists. If you want old, then try some of the Mozarabic Chant from Sto Domingo de Silos. (I attended sung High Mass in the Mozarabic Rite at Silos once, he boasted.)

Post-Romantic is more problematic: the values of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution fuelled Romanticsm. There is plenty of twee or pastiche (the Faure Requiem, for example manages to be both, as does Gelineau and much of what I have heard from Taizé), but little of real substance. Messaien strikes me as having pantheistic overtones: I heard a piece of his performed in Westminster Cathedral and was uncomfortable throughout; Arvo Pärt hits the mark for me every time, but it would be hard to classify his as a "great"; ditto Vaughan Williams' Mass in G Minor (the nods to Tallis bias me in his favour); Górecki has written one of the great rabble rousers in "Totus Tuus" but it's hard to think of it as much more than a glorious affirmation of the resurgence of Polish Catholicsm (a sort of religious "Glory! Glory Man United!" it's just occurred to me). You then have the rash of folk "Masses" which have difigured the last 25 years or so: just looking at the shelf I see Misa Campesina, Misa Flamenca, Misa Criolla, Misa Tango: all bought for me by well-intentioned relatives, all listened to once, but destined for the dustbin of musical history.

Cling to Haydn, and anything before him, and try anything later after an Act of Reservation.

Anonymous said...

I am a music idiot, but I always thought Hayden Baroque and, for me, a category even worse than the Romantics. Imperial bombast.

Give me Thomas Tallis anyday. God bless the english. I do like Perotin and Bingen but I'm not sure that is a good thing. Bingen is a bit too insular. But Perotin can be positively joy-filled.

I will have to check out Part and Williams. Thanks.

Jack