Hysterically funny clip from a 70's movie made for Hermann Prey. Omigod, look at the tie, the suit and the glitter tree in the back. This is a document of culture history. But then listen. This is far and away the best recording I've ever heard of Hugo Wolf's Der Abschied, and I've heard most of them. Prey is so animated, and so funny yet he's singing so accurately that he's absolutely true to score. This takes guts. Often, singers worry about being note perfect and in the process lose the real nature of the song. Prey is note perfect AND gets the point! This song is unique, nothing else like it in the repertoire.
A pompous stranger enters unnannounced and tells the protagonist his nose is too big. Ich habe die Ehr', Ihr Rezensent zu sein! (I have the honour sir, to be Your Critic") Usually this song is taken at face value, assuming that the vistor is a reviewer because Wolf was a composer and music critic. But read the full text carefully, and remember that the poet Eduard Mörike was often wildly kooky. Maybe the visitor is the protagonist himself, stalking his own shadow! There can be a darker reading, when you remember that both poet and composer were manic depressive, and needed to chase away "the black dog". In any case, it's a gloriously witty piece that lets Mörike and Wolf indulge in satirical hijinks. Listen to how the visitor is depicted and how maniacal the protagonist gets when he boots the critic down the stairs. Full text and translation on Emily Ezust's wonderful site.
This is a brilliant performance because Prey captures the sense of wicked glee so well. His diction's so crisp, yet he lets his tongue roll "r"'s viciously, and flattens his vowels when he's singing the visitor, who's some provincial boor despite his airs and graces. He cuts words just enough so the pace speeds up, and stretches them to slow down. And the mock waltz! Prey's not singing "badly" and the pianist's heavy-handedness is deliberate, carefully judged. Also watch Prey's body language, it's so expressive. Admittedly this is a song that benefits from "acting". But it proves yet again that movement isn't fatal for good singers who make it a natural part of what they do. Po-faced Fischer Dieskau could never do what Hermann Prey does here. And Prey could sing opera, while DFD was stiff. It's an object lesson for aspiring singers, to trust their instincts as long as the voice is right.