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Friday, November 11, 2016

#2 - Die Wetterfahne (005)

Today's video is for Winterreise No. 2, "Die Wetterfahne." It was mercifully shorter to record than "Gute Nacht" but still had its challenges. Probably the trickiest part was that most of the time, it moved so fast that my mind had to be super focused to get a take with (almost) no mistakes in the German.



The video starts with some commentary, which I'll mostly repeat here.

At this point in the story, the Wanderer has left the house of his beloved in "Gute Nacht," and left her a little note on the door. He is just a few steps along in "Die Wetterfahne," when he turns around to look at the house he left behind and notices the weathervane moving around on top of her house. "Wetterfahne" means "weathervane." It reminds him of how unfaithful his beloved was. He tells himself that he should have known she'd turn out this way because of that symbol on the house. The Wanderer then complains that the wind plays with hearts, too, but that it's harder to notice inside the house. That's the gist of the text.

We get another clue about the backstory of Winterreise in this song. In the last couple lines, the Wanderer asks:
"Was fragen sie nach meinen Schmerzen?
Ihr Kind is eine reiche Braut!"

meaning,
"What do they care about my pain?
Their kid is a wealthy bride!"

It seems that the parents, who just one song earlier were speaking of marriage, were not talking about his marriage, but the Maiden's marriage to another, richer guy. That's the Einem and Andern from before. Our Einem hero is poor, but the Andern makes the maiden a rich bride. So we have a little more reason why our Wanderer has decided to hit the road.

The music is very descriptive, both in the piano part and in the vocal part. For the vocal part, we have a lot of rubatos, fermatas, and even unusual markings like the words "leise" and "laut". It makes for a fiery, fast piece that changes tempi and dynamic on a dime, just like a weathervane will move.

For the piano, we have a wind motif that whips through at the beginning and in between lines of text. Sometimes, the "wind" moves in the same direction as the singer, playing in unison with him. (This is very tricky to keep together, mind you, which means I have a fabulous accompanist!) At other times, there's simply some chords -- but the chords are often broken up and use grace notes. That sounds a little like mocking to me. And of course I have to mention the trills and "turns." Yes, that's another weathervane reference.

Probably the most distinctive line in the text is the "nur nicht so laut". It means "but not as loudly", and is talking about how the wind plays with the hearts inside the house. I think it's really easy to go overboard with that line by getting really, really soft all of a sudden, but in context, I think it’s a little more snarky than suddenly spooky. It's not about tiptoeing. It's about how the wind is easier to spot outside where the weathervane is than inside when you're with someone you are infatuated with.

Those are my notes for "Die Wetterfahne." Got some of your own? Check out the video, and let's see what you come up with!

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