Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Special: Autumn in the Air

It's a beautiful October afternoon in NYC: days of rain have resolved themselves into crisp, windy weather, with sunshine slanting through clouds. I am, predictably enough, indoors doing work. On the bright side, I have a pot of tea, a nest of blankets, and some gorgeous music. Hopefully the following clips can contribute to your own Herbststimmung.

The first choice and the most obvious is Mahler, Das Lied von der Erde, "Der Einsame im Herbst." Equally obvious choices were Bernstein and Ludwig to interpret it: 

Next is the gorgeous Rachmaninov song, "Harvest of Sorrow" (op. 4 no. 5.) Here's Christa Ludwig again, which I attribute more to a surprising dearth of versions on YouTube than my own favoritism. If you have recommended recordings of Rachmaninov songs, do please share, Gentle Readers.

Lastly, Vivaldi. I make an exception here to my own rule of not cutting Le Quattro Stagioni up into bits, for which I hope you will forgive me, Gentle Readers. There's something about the combination of music and image here which strikes me as just right. Somewhat tangentially, a friend and I were discussing travels in Italy the other day, and came to the subject of Venice. "Did you... like it?" he asked. I said that I loved it, of course, but that it struck me as a strange and deeply uncanny place, whose character insisted that awareness of its strangeness cede to involvement in whatever creates it. I did not think--I said--it would be safe to remain too long, as it soon started reaching out to you, drawing you in... "Three days," said my friend and I in unison. If anyone feels like writing a novel entitled The Fourth Day in Venice, do let me know.


  1. I missed Sunday Specials, awfully.

    Fourth day in Venice? It's a film, and it's called Don't Look Now (1973, Nicholas Roeg)

    Agreed about its uncanniness. What a place.

  2. Thanks, DTO! :)

    I've heard of the Roeg film, but only vaguely; your mention inspires me to look it up. Will report back. I'm somewhat reassured to learn that you share this impression of Venice's anything-but-serene atmosphere.

  3. Rachmaninoff's vocalise (not a song though) interpreted by anna moffo. After listening to "harvest of sorrow", I don't know why, but I'm tempted to suggest a rather different kind of music - Elgar's "pictures of the sea". I hope there's a version sung by Mrs. Ludwig :-) Unfortunately, if there is any, it is not in youtube... :-(

  4. @Placido Zacarias: I own, and cherish, the recording of Moffo singing R's Vocalise (and Canteloube and VIlla-Lobos.) It's been ages since I've listened to any recording of "Sea Pictures," but I'll have to search some out.


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