Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Music for magnetic resonance

They had told me that while you are having an MRI scan they can play you music to relieve the tedium; you can choose from their library or bring your own CD. Not fancying Mantovani or Cliff Richard or Songs from the Shows, when I went to be magnetised (or resonated) the other day I took along a nice Fischer-Dieskau/Alfred Brendel recording, but it turned out that I needn't have bothered because the machine makes so much noise that you can hear very little of the music.

But the CD was one that I hadn't listened to for a while so I played it when I got home. It includes that terrifying song called Der Doppelganger: Schubert's inexorable block chords and Heine's dark poem would give anyone the cauld grue.

There's this chap, you see, who is walking late at night in deserted streets. As he passes the door of the house where his beloved used to live, there is a man standing there, wringing his hands, overwhelmed with anguish. Then he sees the man's face in the moonlight and—horror!—it is his own.

"Der Mond zeigt mir meine eig'ne Gestalt.
Du Doppelgänger! Du bleicher Geselle!
Why do you ape the pain of my love
Which tormented me upon this spot
So many a night, so long ago?"

There are no more details given in the poem, but one might guess that his earlier self was tormented because she always kept him waiting at the door.

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