Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Hurdy Gurdy Winterreise

Schubert Winterriese with a difference, with Matthias Loibner, master Hurdy Gurdy player.  At first i could hardly believe my ears, but the idea works !  Schubert and Wilhelm Muller would have known the sound of these folk instruments, so the references in the text and music are highly significant.  whoever the protagonist in Winterreise may be, he's probably educated though not rich. His journey into uncharted territory, following the spoor of wild animals can be read as a breaking away from society. And thus, the Leiermann,  Barfuß auf dem Eise ,Wankt er hin und her; Und sein kleiner Teller, Bleibt ihm immer leer. Against all odds, the Leiermann keeps going,the mechanical drone of his instrument  reflecting his dogged persistence.  Once the Leiermann might have played a piano., Now,an itinerant beggar, he grinds out a hollow tune. But at least he will not be silenced.  Below, a thoughtful article about Matthias Loibner's Winterreise with hurdy-gurdy, by Mitch Friedfeld:

"I finally took the plunge on possibly the quirkiest Winterreise out there, the one with soprano Natasa Mirkovic-De Ro and Matthias Loibner on...hurdy-gurdy.  Please review the last chapter of Ian Bostridge's book (reviewed here)  So, what did I think of it? Well, it does take some adjustment. To state the obvious, a hurdy-gurdy does not have anything near the depth of a piano, and that's just the point. There is a lot of fret-noise and clicking. If you're a purist about sound, you won't like that part. The tonality is very different, which is to Matthias Loibner's credit. The hurdy-gurdy's droning seems to emphasize dissonance rather than striving for harmony. The sound is bagpipe-like but don't worry, this is far from bagpipe music. Loibner's virtuosity will leave you agape. Mirkovic's diction and intonation are perfect, but I felt like she was walking on eggshells throughout. It sounded like she was afraid of missing a word or tone; too careful and not enough conviction. It feels like she's barefoot on the ice, indeed. After a few songs, I was ready to eject the disc in disappointment, especially after a weak rustling of leaves at Der Lindenbaum. But I stuck with it, Loibner's conception started to make more sense, and I have to say it really grew on me. I began to welcome the dissonances; it made me wonder if Schubert had heard such tonalities in his mind when composing D.911. The highlight of the disc was, not surprisingly, Der Leiermann. The highlight of the disc was, not surprisingly, Der Leiermann. So, bottom line : Should you buy it  ?  Definitely yes. Loibner has a vision and all of us Winterreise fans have to respect that."

No comments: