Anxiety Attack (Melanie Helton & Derek Polischuk)

Anxiety Attack (Melanie Helton & Derek Polischuk)

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Listeners might think that the two song cycles on this program are oddly matched. However, as we have worked through the pieces, we have found that each, by itself and together, are profound expressions of the depth of the human spirit, albeit seen through the very different lenses of the 19th and 21st century.
Robert Schumann’s masterpiece Dichterliebe is a cornerstone of the 19th century romantic repertoire and has been sung and recorded by almost every famous singer since. Although traditionally sung by a man, it was originally dedicated to Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, a powerful German soprano famous for her characterizations (and for whom Schumann’s cycle Frauenliebe- und Leben was written). As the cycle evolves, the role of the voice and the necessity for power becomes more evident. And even though the romantic object of the poet’s affections is grammatically female, it is more about the balance of power in a relationship, which both clearly Heine and Schumann feel leans toward the feminine partner.
We first performed three of Gabriel Kahane’s brilliant Craigslistlieder as part of our biannual concert of “bad music.” As we worked through the entire cycle, we discovered that beyond the settings of “missed connections” taken directly from Craigslist (an online marketplace for nearly anything), there was a poignant, profound expression of a human being who doesn’t quite fit into his own world. Kahane is the son of classical pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane, and it is obvious that he is steeped in the classical vocabulary. From his very fresh compositional voice one still hears echos of Debussy, Messaien, Wagner, and yes, Schumann.
Although some listeners may be taken aback at the very 21st century honesty about issues some consider private, there is never anything vulgar or prurient about this character’s journey. As Schumann’s poet is confronted by a painting of the Virgin Mary in the great Dom in Cologne, Kahane’s average guy sees the messenger of God on the A train, eating M&Ms. Both protagonists admit to their faults, whether it be bitterness or neuroses. Yet, finally, at the end, our heart is perhaps broken, just a little bit, by their journeys.
This program has reinforced to both of us that as we move on into new music, we continue to be colored by our experience of the old. And, conversely, the new paints the old in colors not found before.

Dichterliebe, Opus 48   Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

I.                    Im wunderschönen Monat Mai

II.                 Aus meinem Tränen spriessen

III.               Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube

IV.               Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’

V.                  Ich will meine Seele tauchen

VI.               Im Rhein, in heiligen Strome

VII.             Ich grolle nicht

VIII.          Und wüssten’s die Blumen, die Kleinen

IX.               Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen

X.                  Hor’ ich das Liedchen Klingen

XI.               Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen

XII.             Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen

XIII.          Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet

XIV.           Allnächtlich im Traume

XV.             Aus alten Marchen

XVI.           Die alten, bösen Lieder


Craigslistlieder (written 2009)   Gabriel Kahane (born 1981)

I.                       You Looked Sexy

II.                    I’m Sorry

III.                  Half a Box of Condoms

IV.                  Neurotic and Lonely

V.                     Today I Met

VI.                  For Trade: Assless Chaps

VII.                Two Years Ago, My Sister and I … (some dipshit through [sic] out my bottle)

VIII.             Opera Scene

1.      Recitative: Hello, Potential Roommates

2.      Aria: I have a Compulsion

3.      Recitative: Let me Emphasize

4.      Aria: When You’re Sitting on the couch

5.      Recitative: On infrequent occasions

Aria da capo: I have a compulsion