Aunt Sally Pleasantly Surprised By Hugo Wolf Lieder

Aunt Sally regularly attends concerts at her local church. She is an ardent lover of all things musical, and incidentally loves to get out and about, mixing with the community. She particularly enjoys chatting to the musicians during the post-concert lunch in which scones and tea are served in the side room, once the children from daycare have packed away their toys.

Recently, several singers from the local music school came to give a lieder recital, and Aunt Sally was first in line for a front row seat. “I love a good song recital, but when I saw that there would be some Hugo Wolf on the program my heart sank a little,” she said.  “Why do we have to have all this honky tonky groaning and moaning sort of stuff, when we could just stick with my darling Schubert, the true master?”

After the concert, Aunt Sally was seen explaining to Doris that she quite enjoyed all the music but, much to her surprise, she especially enjoyed the selection of Wolf lieder. In fact, she preferred it to the rest of the program, even the encore from Schumann’s Dichterliebe. “Wasn’t that Wolf just the most charming thing?” she asked. “I think what I liked most was the way he wove such an intricate tapestry of turbulent chromatic wanderings over the slow yet urgent syncopations of an incipient mysticism to convey the soaring yet flawed nature of our dreams against the anxious palpitations of our collective human heart. Yes, it was definitely that that I liked most.”

We spoke to the young accompanist, John Man, who was looking somewhat out of his depth as he listened to Aunt Sally explain why she thought Wolf was the type of musician Friedrich Nietzsche should have been. “I think I probably should have practised a bit more,” he said. “You never know when Aunt Sally will be listening.”

Though the music of Schubert will always be closest to her heart, Aunt Sally says she eagerly looks forward to delving into more of the lieder repertoire and discovering the sort of highly expressive gems she heard in this recital. “You know, sometimes a classic Schubertian common-tone modulation that perfectly captures a diaphonous poetic conceit just isn’t enough for this girl,” she said. “Sorry Franz.”