blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Songs in German

Chris has a new singing teacher, a young man who's keen on Schubert-Lieder and can play the accompaniments; what a fortunate discovery! They're going to be working on one or two of the Winterreise songs together this evening. This lets me off the hook to some extent, but on second thoughts, because Chris will have higher expectations after these lessons, I'll have to work harder at playing the accompaniments at home.

Last week I went to another of those Wednesday lunchtime DOMS concerts: "Opera selections by G. F. Handel and W. A. Mozart" and Lieder by Richard Strauss, including his Four Last Songs, sung by Stephanie Piercey Beames, soprano, with Nadia Boucher, pianist. The Strauss songs are very appropriate for this time of year, and have been going round my head every since I was at the concert, especially that last one, that wonderful setting of the touching Eichendorff poem, Im Abendrot. Strauss was living in Garmisch-Patenkirchen at the end of his life and must have been inspired by the peaceful Alpine landscape there. Chris and I may have the chance to go there next month, but I had better not anticipate too much. The young pianist at the concert did her job very well, but it sounds better with an orchestral accompaniment. Elizabeth Schwarzkopf probably gave the definitive performance:

Ms. Piercey Beames provided her own translation of the poems. For my taste she put too much vibrato into the songs, but her performance was well received. She obviously loved them.

From the sublime to the ridiculous ... on Friday, I was responsible for the singing of some other German songs when our Diplomatic Hospitality Group hosted an Oktoberfest-style lunch at the Maple Leaf Almrausch Club. Our German conversation group had been asked to provide the "entertainment", which consisted of me wearing a Dirndl and talking into a microphone about the origins of the Oktoberfest, then leading the German speakers and our guests (diplomats and other friends) into some singing, starting with the beer-drinking song, Im München steht ein Hofbräuhaus with its obligatory swaying (Schunkeln) to the music. I told them some anecdotes about the Hofbräuhaus which I'd looked up on the Internet beforehand. We continued with a merry folksong about the gypsies –– Lustig ist das Zigeunerleben –– then O du lieber Augustin, and Auf einem Baum ein Kuckuk saß, a repetitive children's song with a nonsense refrain that goes Simsaladim bamba saladu saladim. I got some of the diplomats singing along to that. Our accompanist was my friend Vija (also wearing a Dirndl) who had persuaded her husband to come along to help her carry and set up the electronic keyboard. She also persuaded him ... and Chris! (to his considerable embarrassment because he was put on the spot and had to sight-read)... to join in with the singing on stage. At least Chris and Rolf didn't have to wear Lederhosen.

At the Almrausch lunch, photos by Carol Hinde

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