viernes, 18 de mayo de 2012

A tribute to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Yesterday I lost, we lost, one of the greatest inspirational figure in classical music. The great baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau died at 86 (he was born in 1925). He wasn't a great operatic figure, since his forte lies in the art of German lieder, but it was exactly that facet which inspired me a lot. His recording with Gerard Moore of Schubert's songcycle Winterreise must have been the best recording of that masterpiece, and he had recorded it with other pianists (including Alfred Brendel) several times. Ah, those good old times when we could make countless recordings and could be appreciated by music lovers. Now it's all the downloading culture in the internet. --------- The baritone voice used to be considered as "the tenor voice who couldn't hit high notes", and then Fischer-Dieskau came to rescue its reputation. I am not going to post his biography, since one can easily find it now by googling him. I just wanna write about his impact on me, mostly when I was still studying in my early 20s. The first recording of his I heard was Gustav Mahler's Lieder eine Fahrende Gesellen, with Leonard Bernstein, taking the three movements usually sung by a mezzo-soprano and making them very much his own. But after several other recordings of his I listened to, two of them made a special impact on me. The first one was Britten's War Requiem, whose baritone part was written inspired by and especially for him. It became one of the landmark pieces of my life, not only musically but also an eye-opener to the real meaning of war, and therefore life. Oh and of course Britten wrote his Songs and Proverbs of William Blake for Fischer-Dieskau, a beautiful songcycle for baritone and piano which I still dream of performing one day. -------------- The other one was Sir Michael Tippett's The Vision of St. Augustine, a work for baritone solo, choir & orchestra. Sir Michael in that work attempts the "reach to exceed humanity's grasp" with the baritone solo, the metaphor for the present that follows Augustine's account of the vision combined with the chorus, the symbol of the past and future with its commentary on Augustine's narrative. Out of these disparate and conflictive forces, transcendence erupts. Tippett shows us that with effort, humanity has the potential to reach transcendence through music, and Fischer-Dieskau realized his aspirations. Sir Michael avoided any reference to the tradition of the Music of the Spheres in the Vision of St. Augustine so as not espouse transcendence as attainable through manipulation of patterns and numerology. Instead he turned to the music of the angels, those messengers of God whose language discloses the music of transcendence, and consequently, the connection to the Divinity. Tippett's principal vocal technique is glossolalia, those vocalizations or excited repetitions of vowels to depict the character of angelic singing. Glossolalia, a term from the Greek, are the wordless sounds and shouts accompanying ecstasy. Glossolalia is most prevalent in the vision of eternity, particularly in extension of the final syllables of "alleluia." Unison singing beginning with the lowest male voices extending through the ranges of the highest female voices creating vast arches, using short note values and antiphonal singing complete the angelic vocalizations, and require virtuoso singing from the chorus. It was this piece hanging in the back of my mind when I wrote my own (much lesser in scale and artistic quality, unfortunately) second cantata LIBERTAS which has the same (again, less quantity of instruments) formation. You can download the whole cantata if you have an iPad, iPod touch or even in your iPhone by just searching my name on appStore. By the way, in that app called "Ananda Sukarlan - Premium" you can also listen to many of my songs for baritone, sung by Joseph Kristanto. Some of those songs owe their existence to Fischer-Dieskau's inspirational voice, I must say. And now heaven is so lucky to have Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He is singing now for the angels. Requiescat in Pace, Maestro. You deserve to leave this world by saying that you left it better than when you found it. At least a humble Indonesian boy who dreamt to be a musician & composer could realize it, thanks to you. And you've made him love music more, and made it a big part of his life.