Wine and Music: “Das Lied von der Erde” by Mahler

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Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”) is a six-song composition for two voices and orchestra written between 1908 and 1909. It is drenched in wine.

The words are from Hans Bethge’s Die chinesische Flöte, his translation into German of a volume of ancient Chinese poetry.

The first part “Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde” (“The Drinking Song of Earth’s Sorrow” or “The Drinking Song of Earthly Woe”) begins:

Schon winkt der Wein im gold’nen Pokale,
Doch trinkt noch nicht, erst sing’ ich euch ein Lied!
Das Lied vom Kummer soll auflachend in die Seele euch klingen.
Wenn der Kummer naht, liegen wüst die Gärten der Seele,
Welkt hin und stirbt die Freude, der Gesang.
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod.

Herr dieses Hauses!
Dein Keller birgt die Fülle des goldenen Weins!
Hier, diese Laute nenn’ ich mein!
Die Laute schlagen und die Gläser leeren,
Das sind die Dingen, die zusammen passen.
Ein voller Becher Weins zur rechten Zeit
Ist mehr wert, als alle Reiche dieser Erde!
Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod!

(The wine beckons in golden goblets
but drink not yet; first I’ll sing you a song.
The song of sorrow shall ring laughingly in your soul.
When the sorrow comes, blasted lie the gardens of the soul,
wither and perish joy and singing.
Dark is life, dark is death!

Master of this house,
your cellar is full of golden wine!
Here, this lute I call mine.
The lute to strike and the glasses to drain,
these things go well together.
A full goblet of wine at the right time
is worth more than all the kingdoms of this earth.
Dark is life, dark is death!)

From the fifth song “Der Trunkene im Frühling” (“The Drunkard in Spring”):

Wenn nur ein Traum das Leben ist,
Warum denn Müh’ und Plag’!?
Ich trinke, bis ich nicht mehr kann,
Den ganzen, lieben Tag!

(If life is but a dream,
why work and worry?
I drink until I no more can,
the whole, blessed day!)

The mix of drunkenness and wine-fuelled exhilaration expressed in the words is, well, intoxicating.

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Wine and Music: “Le Vin herbé” by Frank Martin

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Frank Martin was a Swiss composer. No, I hadn’t heard of him either.

Le vin herbé (The Potion), composed 1938–1940, is Martin’s version of the Tristan and Iseult story, or at least the “love potion” part. It’s rarely staged but was performed by the Welsh National Opera in April 2017.

Tristan and Isolde drink a goblet of wine together, not knowing that it is actually a love potion that was intended for the elderly King Marke, to whom Isolde is married. The king hears of their relationship and condemns Tristan to death… I won’t spoil the ending.

Two hours of this is a bit easier to digest than 5+ hours of Wagner…

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Project Front Foot April newsletter

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A message from Vic Mills:

“More tales from the far Pavilions with the Project Front Foot April newsletter.

Another busy month in and around Mumbai with news of the Dharavi Cricket Academy plus more sterling work by our partners at FemaleCricket.com.

The final word goes to our recent Afghan Kit Aid adventure with an update from Essen.

Cheers

Vic”

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Wine and Music: “Chanson à boire” by Ravel

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“Don Quichotte à Dulcinée” is a song cycle by Maurice Ravel based on the story of Don Quixote.

One of the three songs is the “Chanson à boire”, which refers to “l’amour et le vin vieux”… Ah, what could be more enjoyable?

There are apparently over 40 references to wine in Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, most – if not all – of which would have been made on the hot plains of La Mancha, which to this day remains a source of simple and inexpensive wines.

I had to endure the 800+-pages of this book-shaped object as an English and European Literature undergraduate at Warwick University all too many years ago. I suppose that I should be grateful to have been forced to read it (and other horrors like The Faerie Queene and anything written by female poets before the 18th century) in the knowledge that it was very unlikely that I would ever reread it.

It hadn’t come to mind again until I read John Carey’s The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life (2014), in which Professor Carey expresses distaste for Cervantes’ depiction of mental illness. I agree: Don Quixote is big but it’s not clever.

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Champagne and Thrift: Samuel Smiles and Heidsieck Champagne

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A cartoon of Samuel Smiles by Edward Linley Sambourne, 1883, from “Punch”.
Smiles was a Scottish author and government reformer whose most famous work is “Self-Help” (1859), which promoted thrift and asserted that poverty was caused largely by irresponsible habits.

It is therefore a bit surprising that he is seen here enjoying a bottle of Heidsieck “Dry Monopole” Champagne, now called “Blue Top” and available at supermarkets everywhere. But Smiles’ exceptionally long life – he was born in the reign of George III in 1812 and died an Edwardian in 1904 – suggests that Champagne contributes towards good health and longevity.

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT MARCH NEWSLETTER + AFGHAN KIT AID ADVENTURE – AS FEATURED ON THE BBC WORLD SERVICE!

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A message from my friend Vic Mills:

“Hi Stuart,

A busy Friday here in Berlin and the start of a long couple of days as we get the latest project newsletter down the wires.

A bumper edition too with all the news from Mumbai’s far pavilions together with our Afghan Kit Aid adventure. –

The latter proved a great success, although we did pay a high price in the form of Carpool Karaoke! with the accompanying journo from BBC World Service.

Still, the nightmares are beginning to fade.

Cheers

Vic”

And additionally:

“Thanks to BBC reporter/producer, Seth Bennett, we now have the respective links to the radio and TV coverage of our recent Afghan Kit Aid adventure.

BBC World Service Radio – STUMPED –
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04z4n27

BBC World Service TV – SPORT TODAY –
https://youtu.be/PpG_TMfas3c”

I listen to Stumped every week – highly recommended.

 

 

 

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Wine and Music: “Laurent-Perrier” by Francisco López

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I can only hope that Francisco López was well-rewarded for naming a song after a Champagne brand.

This Spanish composer of “experimental” music describes his work as, “Destroying boundaries between industrial sounds and wilderness sound environments, shifting with passion from the limits of perception to the most dreadful abyss of sonic power, proposing a blind, profound and transcendental listening, freed from the imperatives of knowledge and open to sensory and spiritual expansion.” Wow…  I wonder how its notated?

“Laurent-Perrier” could be interpreted as the sound of bubbles fizzing in a glass… Or maybe not.

Interesting stuff but not particularly enjoyable to listen to.

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Wine and Music: “Careless Love”

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The composer of this classic blues song is unknown: “Trad” is the best guess.

There have been many version of this tale of heartbreak and vengeance. I have chosen Bessie Smith’s magnificent recording.

The song is not really about wine in any great sense but it does use it as a simile for the narrator’s love-struck angst:

“Love, oh love, oh careless love,
You fly to my head like wine,
You’ve ruined the life of many a poor girl,
and you nearly wrecked this life of mine”  

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Wine and Music: Goran Bregović’s “Champagne For Gypsies”

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A nice title by Goran Bregović, a well-regarded Bosnian musician whose songs cover a wide variety of genres.

He composed the soundtrack for the sumptuous 1994 film La Reine Margot, starring Isabelle Adjani. I have not seen it for many (25?) years but I recall the film’s recreation of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572… Ouch.

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PROJECT FRONT FOOT: FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

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A message from Vic Mills:

“A tad frenetic here as we put together our refugee Kit Aid appeal. It’s starting to take shape. Which is just as well as we’ve an overnight sailing to the Hook of Holland on 31 March.

All of this and more in next month’s newsletter. For the moment, however, a little heat and dust this Sunday afternoon courtesy of February’s action from Mumbai and beyond.

Cheers

Vic”

The February newsletter can be seen here.

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