Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mein Ruh' ist hin

The middle of the academic term is a time of reckoning: a time of completing some projects; a time of realizing that it really is time to start serious work on others; a time of staying in and reading/writing instead of jaunting down to the Met. Fortunately, this can also be a time of listening to recital CDs to soothe and stimulate. Firstly, there's the panache of Vesselina Kasarova's Rossini arias and duets, filled with vocal fireworks for every emotional occasion. (Thanks are due to Se Vuoi Pace, whose own healthy obsession with Kasarova cannot but whet interest in the reader-listener.) Secondly, there is the Lieder recital of Waltraud Meier featuring Brahms, Schumann, and Schubert. Waltraud Meier is not only (in my opinion) an extraordinary musician; she also strikes me as being one of those rare human beings who seems as though they would have been at home--and in command--in whatever century and situation fate chose to put them. I suspect she could have made a success of behind-the-scenes political agency in the seventeenth century, among other things. And I am wowed by the album art for this record, where she channels 1930s screen goddess glamor in black lace and flawless lipstick:

Alas, I will never be that fabulous. But revenons à nos moutons: the Brahms Ziegeunerlieder are fiery and seductive. "Frauenliebe und -leben" is deliciously expressive, full of personality which I often struggle to find there. And with the Schubert, transcendence is reached. Maybe it's partially my own temperament which predisposes me to find resonance here; but I have listened to these untiringly. And I learn, in the bland language of Amazon, that the item has been discontinued by the manufacturer! Mein Herz ist schwer. Ah well... for this, as for so much else, I will rely on the NYPL... and trust that "Gretchen am Spinnrad"--and "Die Junge Nonne," and "Der Tod und das Mädchen"!--are not actually essential to the process of research... even if it feels like it.

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