The idea behind Lied Austria International is a very deep engagement with the poetic texts of lieder before any attempt is made to get to grips with the musical settings, because many of the greatest lieder composers have been quoted as saying that rather than actively setting the texts to music, they were in fact trying only to reveal the innate musicality within the poem. LAI treats lieder with a passionate recognition that the particular choices of words by the poets are in fact an inherent part of the musical texture, and that the very SOUND of the language is an important part of the final musical product. From an initial period of working on the poem deeply and learning to declaim it not just intelligibly but (hopefully) with great nuance, you can then transfer what you have learnt into a richer dialogue with the material then presented by the composer. It was a fascinating - and incredibly, surprisingly challenging – journey which has changed my perspective on lieder forever.
The month of study culminated in two performances in the tiny hamlet of Gamlitz, of a diverse program of lieder including that of Brahms, Marx, Schoeck, Pfitzner, Schubert, Schumann, Strauss and Wolf. Then, on my penultimate night in town, the lady who ran the farmstay where I’d been living took me along to a traditional Steierische singalong at a local cellar door where I drank too much wine, attempted yodeling, and ended up giggling like an idiot in the corner because the dialect had me completely bamboozled. Totally. Awesome. I do however feel that I have eaten enough meat, cheese and bread to last me a lifetime. My jeans agree.
For more information about Lied Austria International, visit this address: http://www.liedaustria.com/index.html