Monday, February 22, 2016


Goethe reaches the heavens with Prometheus, the rebel!


I have always considered Lieders as a minor musical form that can be entertaining, at times surprising, that can reach the level of an anthem or a hymn, and yet that cannot have the dramatic power and the tragic urgency of an aria in an oratorio or lamentation in an opera because they have nothing before, nothing after and they are reduced to their single skeleton and the little flesh the words put on the bones and the life the music can set in that flesh. This recording is just going that way with its first two sections, “Mörike-Lieder” and “Spanisches Liederbuch,” but it gets transcended and transcendental with the last section “Goethe-Lieder.”

Why is Goethe so strong?


The first reason is that these poems were not written to become Lieders but to be poems. Goethe’s style is one of the densest styles I know in German poetry. What’s more Goethe has a tremendous dramatic and tragic sense, from Sturm und Drang to Faust I & II, and he sure can wrap a simple situation in such a vast mental construction that we enter an outlandish universe with the first words that are like a black hole in the poetic cosmos. And don’t believe you can escape that human tragedy because Goethe is able with three words to capture you and never let you go. I know only very few arias by Bach in his passions that can have that mesmerizing power with two words like “Ruht Wohl.”

Goethe systematically assumes the point of view of the person speaking in the poem. Thus he is Mignon, he is the Rattenfänger, the Harfenspieler and Prometheus. And that transforms the poem into a snaring trap for the listener and it reveals that Goethe was haunted by the desire for a man, a lover with Mignon: a whole crowd of rats, children that have to be seen as boys because the third crowd is girls to then relapse on the rats with Der Rattenfänger; an evanescent and unidentified male character in the absolute solitude of the Harfenspieler; to end with the identification with Prometheus challenging God and his punishment that gives him the eternal glory and dimension of the martyr, in a way the very archetype that will be imitated with Jesus on his cross by order of his father to save humanity just the same way Prometheus gave the means to become humanity to the wild animal man was before he had fire and a some other divine knowledge and knowhow, with the only difference that Prometheus stole that knowledge from his god whereas Jesus was just a gullible and subservient sacrificial being of his father.


The music is up to that challenge and this section of the CD becomes musically outlandish whereas the previous sections were only humanely dramatic. This fascination and vast cosmic hunt of Goethe for that pure man he longs for, that pure male hero and genius he dreams of poem after poem becomes like the icon of the deepest desire a man may have, the desire to reach what Lacan called his phallus, the Ideal of his Ego, the hero and the genius that is in each one of us, the narcissistic and deeply blissful commerce with what we could be, could become, could build, could conquer. And this monosexual discourse can become universal if we take this male character as the representative of any human being, of Mensch and not Mann, hence of Weib too and Frau, of Mädchen as much as Kinder. But what is essential is this introspective self-realization of the inner mental potential we are by our own efforts that have to be a rebellion against the world, against all the gods, against ourselves too because our mental potential is too often enslaved by the symbolical chains of Prometheus which can then and consequently make us only be the fodder of the social and political eagle that sucks our blood day after day, and we will never be able to realize our dream, our potential, our promise.

I will naturally dedicate this Prometheus, Goethe’s and Wolf’s, to all those I have loved, be they the few women I loved and still love including of course the one who became my life partner; be they the few men I loved and still love including my son who is suffering somewhere on this earth and in his mind for having been loved too much by artificial desires and paradises, and my best younger friend in my old age who is a lot more than just a friend, a mind-mate that has promised to hug me on my death bed.


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