November 1st, 2015


Shades of Werther

Chain of circumstances it would be tedious to unravel led to the realization that I'd forgotten what the last of Mahler's Songs of a Wayfarer is about. 30 years ago I had them by heart; but that was then. Googling about led me to youtube and this stunning performance by James Hampson, whose name I'd never heard before.

'Unfashionable hairstyle,' I thought, 'but go him for wearing it like that.' Mh, yes. If I'd recalled that Bernstein died in 1990, I might have been more on the ball. This concert seems to have dated from 1989 when Hampson was a fresh-faced 34 year old.

(As for what happens, it begins with the Wayfarer still feeling dreadfully dreadfully sorry for himself and leaving home in the middle of the night so he can moan that there's no one to say good-bye to him oh weh oh weh! (cognate with oy vay, I'm told, with what truth I cannot say); comes across a linden tree by the roadside, lies down, and at once feels better. Possibly because he's dead, and not a moment too soon.)