Mitch on an English version of Winterreise:
Thanks for that! I really enjoyed the translation, rhyming couplets and
all! Are you sure it was "snarling doves" following the organ grinder?
That would be an image.... I quite like the "o" "o" "o" sounds in the
verses about the crow - it's the way crows cry.
There's also a version in Japanese which no one but Japanese listeners
and Peter Phillips would know.....
Listening to these translations is a very good exercise indeed.. Just
like you do Abs to tone the muscles in your body, listening to these
versions help tone your understanding of the cycle. For example, Mitch
has perceptively noticed that in the German, the girlfriend and her
mother are ciphers, but are more clear in the English. It's a fine
detail, but has bearing on the interpretation of the whole cycle. Is
the man running away from a materialistic girl who dumped him? Heading
off into the frozen unknown is an extreme reaction. It's more likely a
psychological journey of some kind, a sort of "trial by fire" to use the
worst possible analogy!
That is why I like the relatively new Ian Bostridge version. It's
not as overwhelmingly deep as the Goerne/Brendel, but it's very
defiant, as if the man knows that he has to go through the journey to
work something out. He knows the journey will be no fun, but he
needs the struggle in order to get the past out of his system. And
he adamantly won't give in to the temptations of escape offered by
sleep, death etc. through the Lindentree and the graveyard.
I do like it when performers care enough about a piece that they want
to translate it. At least they're thinking, even if the translation
changes the relationship of words to music.
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