»For me, the Lied is like an essence of music, because for me it’s such a perfect combination of poetry and music. It really started back in the Middle Ages with minstrels who sang about love. And it’s carried through to every second pop song today.« – Anna-Lena Elbert
In the fifth and final episode of the »Tiny House Concert« series, Steven Walter and Coco Elane welcome a star of the international classical music scene to the Tiny House one last time: this time the award-winning soprano Anna-Lena Elbert. The episode is all about the Lied (song), a genre that runs from the Middle Ages to the present day. Anna-Lena Elbert sings works from very different eras. She has brought her own accompanist to the Tiny House: together with viol player Friederike Heumann, she sings several pieces by Robert Jones – »we’ve never had so much orchestra here before« jokes Steven Walter.
Elbert talks about her singing career, the skills that you need as a singer in addition to singing, her »inner crazy performer« and the strange rituals of the classical music business. The three of them also cook Mediterranean oven-baked vegetables.
»What I really like about new music is that you also have contemporary lyrics.«
Before her singing career, Anna-Lena Elbert wanted to study the oboe, although she grew up singing. Perhaps that was because both her parents are singers and at first she resisted following in their footsteps. After graduating from high school, however, she realised that singing was a matter close to her heart – even more so than the instrument.
However, she first had to feel her way into the role of soprano. »It's very exposed,« says Steven Walter. The separation between private persona and stage persona is important for everyday life as a singer, also for self-protection from serious texts or sad occasions such as funerals. The singing profession also requires physical mindfulness: »The most important thing is that I want to do this job in good health for as long as possible.«
And Elbert shows how well she does this job not only with early music, but also with new music: she opens her laptop to interpret the contemporary work »Die Dichterin spricht: Nachmittag im Park« by Johannes X. Schachtner (2017), which works with digital recordings. The composition presents an actually everyday situation in a whimsical way. »It’s funny, it’s also a bit absurd,« comments Elbert, »Dada in the Tiny House – that’s great!« replies Walter.
»Of course I also listen to pop music. I’m just a fan of music with lyrics. If it simply comes from the heart and is beautifully made, then it touches me.«
She doesn’t really listen to Schlager in her private life – but she sings a »Schlager from the Renaissance« at the end, as Steven Walter announces the last piece: »Whither Runneth My Sweetheart« by Robert Jones, with Friederike Heumann on the viola da gamba.
The complete episode is available here in the ARD media centre.
At Beethovenfest 2023, Anna-Lena Elbert can be heard on 17 September at 11 a.m. in the matinee Humans as Animals with Amadeus Wiesensee at the piano and a reading by Birte Schrein. A musical-literary programme that reflects on man and his place in nature – with songs from the Romantic period and the present day and a reading from the latest book by philosopher Markus Gabriel.
Anna-Lena Elbert at Beethovenfest 2023
Tiny House Concert
Tiny House Concert is a production of ARD Kultur, Deutsche Welle and Beethovenfest Bonn. We show a short version in our magazine. All full-length episodes are available in the ARD Mediathek.