Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.

I have not become lost to the world, though the paucity of recent posts here may have led some readers to suspect otherwise. I've been having a fairly busy semester, thanks to responsibilities in the classroom (one of the courses I'm teaching is entirely new, which means a lot more prep work for each session) and elsewhere (this is the time of year when applications of various kinds come due, and I've had several recommendation letters to write for former students). Though I'm not able to post here as often as I would like, I hope that occasional updates like this one will be appreciated by loyal readers who check this space regularly to see if I've added anything new.

Not new to me but hopefully new to some readers are the Rückert-Lieder, a set of songs by Gustav Mahler based on poems by German Romantic poet Friedrich Rückert. Off and on during the month of January, I found one of these Lieder stuck in my head: "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen," of which you may find the text and various translations here. "There's a post there," I thought, and, in hopes of winning some new converts to Mahler's music, I decided to share my favorite of the Rückert-Lieder on this blog. Here, then, are three different but equally fine performances of "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen."

In this first video, German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau sings "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" with the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin led by Riccardo Chailly. Fischer-Dieskau was one of the great singers of the last century, making this a performance worth hearing even though the picture and sound quality of this 1989 recording are far from perfect.

Recorded twenty years after the Fischer-Dieskau performance in Berlin, here is mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená performing the same song with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado. Kožená's gesticulations and facial expressions can be a bit distracting - at times, she looks like she's about to start weeping - but the total effect of her singing, Abbado's careful conducting, and the fine work of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra all make for a riveting performance.

For a very different approach to "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen," check out this choral arrangement by Clytus Gottwald, performed here by the Virginia Chorale under the direction of Steven White. I cannot say that this is my favorite of the three recordings - I like all of them - but I do find that this song moves me in a somewhat different way when it's performed by an unaccompanied choir rather than by an orchestra and a vocal soloist. I can't offer an explanation for this, nor should I be expected to. Whatever your particular reaction to the above recordings, I hope that you enjoy this musical interlude. AMDG.


Post a Comment

<< Home