25 October 2005

richard strauss - "im abendrot" (soprano: lucia popp, w/ klaus tennstedt & the london philharmonic) (from the strauss : also sprach zarathustra lp, available for purchase here.)

this last section of the disc deals mainly w/ my coming terms to w/ the titans: sinatra, elvis, and dylan--or in other words, my father's favorite, my mother's favorite, and everyone else's favorite.

in retrospect, i'm not quite sure why i had troubles w/ sinatra and elvis. the convenient "out" was that neither played an instrument (well, at least) and neither wrote the majority of their material. it was more like, however, that i couldn't deal w/ my parents and i listening to the same music--even though that's where this whole thing began. listening to compilations is one thing, demonstrating interest in an artist each feels a v. personal connection w/ is quite another, and me being, especially as a teen, a v. private individual, i didn't want to invite that kind of "sharing." once again, we're in deep psychoanalytic sharing.

eventually, after stealthily removing records from the collection and listening w/ headphones, i gave up and played them alou; i have difficulty even rememberning a time when i didn't dig both of them. turns out it wasn't so bad, talking w/ your parents about their own youth.

dylan, on the other hand.

the careful searcher--and the excessively and curiously inquisitive reader--can probably find all of my public statements against bob dylan. playing instruments, writing his own songs, having a "terrible" voice--he marked essentially the end of the interpretive era initiated by jolson and crobsy, carried on by sinatra, and died for good w/ elvis in the john. it seems much easier for the enlightened music-listening guy to pass on both sinatra and elvis than on dylan, voice or no. no matter how much music one listens to, no matter how cultivated he or she become, dylan is like the gargoyle on the church, grinning--grinning, and not smiling--down on you from above

of course, once one gets past the voice, it quickly becomes apparent how well-suited it is to the material, that, when dylan compares himself to caruso, he's right: caruso's voice was made for opera just as dylan's voice is made for his songs. elvis said, "i don't sing like nobody," and dylan, an unlikely successor to his mantle, can also make that claim. i got into dylan's songs through covers, but once i heard the originals, i learned how even the most universal claim on his part is ultimately so personal, and best rendered by the man himself. it's rough--and only getting rougher--but just how would you describe the music, if not the same?

voices, too, are in play w/ lieder and opera, as previously mentioned in a posting on schubert. lucia popp's version of "im abendrot," wisely positioned as the last of the four last songs, is my favorite take on the song, and i've heard fleming, janowitz, norman, schwarzkopf, &c. this only reflects the principle of "i know what i like," and is no indication of how much i've come to learn about classical singing. no, i'm a greenhorn in such matters, but popp sings pretty, and if i'm going to meet death, i'd rather do so w/ someone who sounds like her than w/ the others, simple as that. i bought this disc sound unheard, before the internet and all that, and i was w/ it until the last track--and then i heard "im abendrot" and i was into it, literally, figuratively, and a whole lot of other adverbs, too. whatever the version, that opening blast of strings and horns can wring tears from my eyes w/ alarming ease.

oh, i know i said this wasn't about songs for one's funeral, but what a way to go-- but only after you've partied hard.

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