Franz Schubert (1797-1828) was basically a singer-songwriter. Only he left the writing to others. During the day, Schubert composed songs. In the evening he sang them to his friends, sometimes accompanying himself on the piano. From time to time, the great Viennese Mozart singer Johann Michael Vogl was a guest at the salons called "Schubertiads" and took over the singing part. Over wine and cigars. Not always great art. Rather: eternal melodies. In the 31 years of his life, Schubert wrote about 600 songs - and in these he seems to speak directly to us. The undisguised voice of a human being. Perhaps hoarse. Harassed by everyday life. With little feedback from the large community - and disappointed by many a swarm.
The authentic unpretentiousness, the great but highly artistic simplicity of Schubert's song oeuvre and the love for his work gave the Duisburg pianist Kai Schumacher the idea to dive into a new selection of these songs. Without a pocket square and tails in his brain, but with fire in his heart.
Kai Schumacher: "For me, the Schubert Lieder are among the most beautiful music of the 19th century. However, for me, the immediacy of the songs is lost in classical recitals. It is often too artificial for me. The classical singer embodies a role on stage - perfect intonation and fidelity to the work are often more important than feeling and intention. I have always been curious about how it sounds when someone approaches it in a completely unaffected way, without classical etiquette, and makes the songs his own without bias. This singer actually had to be Gisbert zu Knyphausen from the beginning."
In songwriter Gisbert zu Knyphausen, Schumacher actually found someone who had already made his first excursions into the world of art song. Even if it still seemed a little foreign to him at first.
Gisbert zu Knyphausen: "When Kai asked me if I would like to take part in this project, which was initially only planned as a pure concert in Duisburg and at the Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg, I immediately thought: "Great, I definitely want to try that out!" I had once bought a record of Schubert songs at a flea market, but the spark didn't really take off then. I got my first inkling of the beauty of the art song when, at the end of a very drunken New Year's Eve party, a friend played me the 'Leiermann', sung by Dietrich Fischer Dieskau, and we were both very moved by it. In the hangover days afterwards, I listened to the entire 'Winterreise'. After Kai's request, I of course studied the songs more intensively, but admittedly it took quite a while before they really got to my heart. At some point, though, it "clicked" and I started to discover all the special moments: the great melodies, the artful harmony changes."
Schubert seeks out intimate lyrics that project a mostly melancholic underlying feeling onto a motivic melodic thought or rhythm. A flowing, a rattling, a steady grinding of the mills; It must go on and on. Up to a point where Schubert has had enough. No one can stand too much self-pity. Here Schubert and zu Knyphausen are possibly kindred spirits: in their way of combining love and grief in music. In songs in a minor key, the unreal suddenly appears in a completely unreal major; in major-key songs, on the contrary, a dry minor, often reduced in the movement, breaks in. In happiness, sadness, and in sadness, the starkly beautiful utopia of love and security.
Kai Schumacher: "The balance was important to us in the choice of songs and the arrangements: to make a Schubert album with only sad songs and far too much pathos would perhaps have been what one could have expected with this new line-up. And would also have stubbornly fulfilled the far too easy cliché of the poor unhappy Franz Schubert. That's why it was necessary to sometimes break almost ironically with the originals, as in the 'Ständchen' or 'Nähe des Geliebten'. I also wanted to maintain this fine line between classical standards and respect for the original on the one hand, and very personal and contemporary interpretation on the other. So neither neo-romantic kitsch, nor smooth crossover pop."
In the spherically howling or cheerfully ironic new settings by Kai Schumacher and Gisbert zu Knyphausen, all the expressive spectrums of the Schubert song universe can be found. Each time newly thought, felt, subjectively and very sensitively penetrated into the song model.
'Lass irre Hunde heulen' will be released digitally, on CD and vinyl on September 10th on Neue Meister.