Sunday, 19 November 2006

Where’d you get those eyes?

When you are in a really black mood there is no point in trying to cheer yourself up by listening to some jolly music: it will make you feel worse. Far better to play something reflecting your feelings rather than trying to find something that might change them: the Funeral March from Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, say, or, even better, that chilling Schubert song Der Doppelgänger.

From a poem by Heine, this is about a poor fellow who, wandering in the deserted streets at night, passes the house where his lost love had dwelt before she left town. There is a grisly figure standing at the door wringing its hands in grief and pain. When he sees its face, he realises that it is his own ghost*. Let Fischer-Dieskau tell you about this and you will realise that others have been more miserable than you.

Or, again Schubert, there’s Goethe’s Erl-King, which ends: “…in his arms the child was dead”.

But if you’re merely feeling a bit low, there are any number of pieces which can lift the spirits. Here are three which never fail to work for me:

1. The patter duet Cheti, cheti, immantinente from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, sung with tremendous comic verve by Martin Lawrence and Mariano Stabile.

2. Tout Va Très Bien, Madame la Marquise. Ray Ventura and his band, in a variety of silly voices, are Madame’s servants telephoning her with news of gradually worsening disasters, ending with the suicide of her husband and the destruction by fire of the château…..
Mais, à part ça, Madame la Marquise,
Tout va très bien, tout va très bien
.

3. Johnny Mercer’s Jeepers Creepers. The late Nat Gonella (he was 90 when he died in 1998) and his American All Stars, with Nat on vocals and trumpet, Benny Carter on alto sax, Billy Kyle on piano and a sublime clarinet solo from Buster Bailey. Magnificent!


*...and the last verse is:
Du Doppelgänger, du bleicher Geselle!
Was äffst du nach mein liebesleid
Das mich gequält auf dieser steller
So manche nacht, in alter Zeit?

[You ghostly double, pale companion –
why do you ape the pain of love
that tortured me, in this very place,
so many nights in times gone by?]

4 comments:

Gumby said...

Lovely.
A soundtrack to accompany my astounding score of 5 on the Mastermind test. An appropriate but sadistic juxtaposition! Could you follow up with a recipe incorporating arsenic?

Luke said...

o now look haer gumby a score of 5 is GRAET for a nice blond like you.
I only said that to anoy all those femanists who raed this blog

Grumio said...

Honolulu Baby!
Where'd you get those eyes?
Honolulu Baby,
That I idolise!


Dunno if that's relevant but anyway.

Tony said...

Ah, dear Stan and Ollie! Now there's something to lighten one's darkest hours!