Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sunday Night is.... Schubert's Winterreise with Bostridge

Gute Nacht, the first of the Winterreise cycle. Romantic suffering pressed through the rusty gratings of the soul, purified and poured into the darkness. The video is a little stagy, a little self-indulgent, as heartbreaking adolescence generally is, but for sheer clarity of melody there is no one better than Schubert.

Ian Bostridge - a little proper, a touch public school boy - but with extraordinary phrasing and fitting clarity, does a passing imitation of Hugo Williams in Schubertian gear.

Ignore the slight cavils above. It is gorgeous, plangent, beyond sentimentality. Original words by Wilhelm Müller, with nice commentary and translators' notes and a lead to a singable translation.

Gute Nacht

Fremd bin ich eingezogen,
Fremd zieh' ich wieder aus.
Der Mai war mir gewogen
Mit manchem Blumenstrauß.
Das Mädchen sprach von Liebe,
Die Mutter gar von Eh', -
Nun ist die Welt so trübe,
Der Weg gehüllt in Schnee.

Ich kann zu meiner Reisen
Nicht wählen mit der Zeit,
Muß selbst den Weg mir weisen
In dieser Dunkelheit.
Es zieht ein Mondenschatten
Als mein Gefährte mit,
Und auf den weißen Matten
Such' ich des Wildes Tritt.

Was soll ich länger weilen,
Daß man mich trieb hinaus ?
Laß irre Hunde heulen
Vor ihres Herren Haus;
Die Liebe liebt das Wandern -
Gott hat sie so gemacht -
Von einem zu dem andern.
Fein Liebchen, gute Nacht !

Will dich im Traum nicht stören,
Wär schad' um deine Ruh'.
Sollst meinen Tritt nicht hören -
Sacht, sacht die Türe zu !
Schreib im Vorübergehen
Ans Tor dir: Gute Nacht,
Damit du mögest sehen,
An dich hab' ich gedacht.

Translated as (with synposis of whole cycle):

Good Night

As a stranger I arrived
As a stranger I shall leave
I remember a perfect day in May
How bright the flowers, how cool the breeze

The maiden had a friendly smile
The mother had kind words
But now the world is dreary
With a winter path before me

I can’t choose the season
To depart from this place
I won’t delay or ponder
I must begin my journey now

The bright moon lights my path
It will guide me on my road
I see the snow-covered meadow
I see where deer have trod

A voice within says – go now
Why linger and delay?
Leave the dogs to bay at the moon
Before her father’s gate

For love is a thing of changes
God has made it so
Ever-changing from old to new
God has made it so

So love delights in changes
Good night, my love, good night
Love is a thing of changes
Good night, my love, good night

I’ll not disturb your sleep
But I’ll write over your door
A simple farewell message
Good night, my love, good night

These are the last words spoken
Soon I’ll be out of sight
A simple farewell message
Goodnight, my love, good night

OK, just off to leave the dogs baying at the moon.


Poet in Residence said...

Ian Bostridge is one of my favourite singers, particularly so when accompanied on Klavier by Julius Drake. Bostridge is like a performing stick insect, pale faced on stage he looks as if he's ill, but close up after the show he looks exhilerated and vital. I wish he'd sing more English,or even Welsh songs and less Lieder but there seems to be some technical reason why he doesn't.

George S said...

It is Julius Drake doing the accompaniment here. Lieder is contested territory. It is deeply romantic and, for my taste, a little over beautiful at times, as if tragic mellifluous beauty were the whole story. But it's a good story. And Bostridge hangs in there as if he belonged.

Both Schubert cycles - The Winterreise and Die Schone Mullerin are about as beautiful as things get,