Kartoffellied - (2009)
for medium voice and piano
Pasteten hin, Pasteten her,
was kümmern uns Pasteten?
Die Kumme hier
ist auch nicht leer
und schmeckt so gut als bonne chere
und von Kröten.
Und viel Pastet und Leckerbrot
verdirbt nur Blut
Die Köche kochen lauter Not,
sie kochen uns viel eher
Ihr Herren, laßt Euch sagen!
Schön rötlich die Kartoffeln
und weiß wie Alabaster!
Sie däun sich lieblich und geschwind
und sind für Mann und Frau und Kind
ein rechtes Magenpflaster.
[ 4 pages, circa 1' 45" ]
The Potato song
Pâtés there, pâtés here,
Shall we care about
The bowl here is not empty
and it tastes as good as the fancy
which are made by frogs and toads.
And many pastries and
only upset one's blood and stomach.
Chefs cook with
such a fuss,
and cook us into an early grave;
My friends, let's say
Beautifully reddish are potatoes
and white as alabaster!
They're light and sweet and easy to cook,
designed for men and women and
as a fine cure for the stomach.
Call it a Pastet, vol-au-vent, tourte, torta or tortino, it is a puff
paste shell filled with a savory meat mixture usually with a sauce. It is
against this and other pastries which Claudius sweetly rages. That
"windblown" vol-au-vent, that Pastet and the Leckerbrot of
which Claudius warns was seen as quite the health threat, much as in today's
world the social activist busies himself with all sorts of warnings about
one sort of food or another. It seems worrying for others -- what might
otherwise be called as being "nosy" -- has long been the province of men,
from then until now. Alas for such health concerns, pâtés are happily still
with us centuries later.
In the last line of the poem, Matthias Claudius employs a word from a
Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Magenpflaster, which one does not find in
use in modern German. The reference is charming, for the notion that the
"old ways" are best is reflected in this strange little poem. Not rich food,
but plain, is prescribed, and there is some antipathy to the haute cuisine
which is so corruptibly "French."
For this, the opening is most aggressive, a double forte to attract
attention. What then follows is a waltz with that stylish "late" third beat.
The vocal line leads over the "oomph pah" accompaniment with its lower and
upper neighbor decorations.
The last stanza of the poem becomes the B section in an AABA song form, as
the texture changes lightly before a reprise of elements from the opening
The score for Kartoffellied is available as a free PDF download,
though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is
prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic
below for this piano-vocal score.