Over het album
Dedicating a CD to the dark side of the Lied might seem inappropriate in these times of Covid, climate change and refugee crises, but as a mezzo-soprano Olivia has always been drawn to the darker roles in opera, the sad arias in oratorio and the deep laments in song. After our recent recording (‘Dirty Minds’), which focused on ‘la petite mort’, it seemed a natural progression to turn our attention to ‘la grande mort’!
Darkness in the outside world and the inner self has always been – alongside Love – one of the chief themes of vocal music, and compositions and songs about death are legion during every period of musical history. The music on this recording is extremely diverse and we relished the idea of programming songs from different centuries in different styles and genres. We begin with a collection of songs about melancholia, inner abysses, longing for death and murderous lust. But the CD is also rich in songs about comfort and hope, light instead of despair – with lashings of black humour!
Composers down the ages have used innovative approaches to render the theme of death. Chromaticism is used tellingly by Monteverdi and Schubert. Duparc’s sensuous ‘Extase’ (1878), is nothing short of a miniature Liebestod. Korngold and Wolfgang Rihm play with translucent semitone sighs, Schumann’s ‘Nachtlied’ is characterized by hovering harmonies; Strauss and Korngold use late-romantic opulence; while tonality with Charles Ives and Alban Berg begins to lose its hold, while Berg, abandons tonality entirely. John Cage goes a step further and directs the pianist to drum the notes on the lid of a completely closed piano. Randy Newman’s ‘In Germany before the war’ is wreathed in mystery.