The only other “art song” on the list this week, Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” from Rückert Lieder is another song that always brings me to tears. This is especially true when sung by the peerless Dame Janet Baker (though Dieskau or Anne Sofie von Otter also have gorgeous renditions). Her pianissimi in this recording are some of the best I’ve ever heard, especially in the upper register, and her tone rings clear as a bell. I’ve listened to and thought about this song a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. The first line translates to “I am lost to the world, which I used to waste much time”. I certainly have felt a bit lost to the world these last few months (or really most of 2020). It can be hard to find the motivation to sing some days. But this is not a song of retreat or resignation. The last lines read “I am dead to the world’s tumult, and rest in a quiet place. I live alone in my heaven, in my love, in my song!” Obviously, what happens in the world around us affects us. But this song is a reminder of what truly matters; the art we make and the lives we touch through it aren’t going anywhere.
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