Franz Schubert's "Prometheus" crams the passions of an entire opera into a single song -- a soliloquy by the defiant Titan of Greek mythology, hurling his contempt at the gods."Honor you? What for . . . Here I sit, forming men in my image, a species like myself, to suffer, to weep, to enjoy and be happy, and to ignore you as I do."
It is enormously powerful music, fully equal to Goethe's masterful text and relatively unknown among Schubert's more than 600 Lieder, most of which are more melodious and easier to sing, but few of which have so strong an impact. In a gesture almost as bold as that of Prometheus, baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau places it as the beginning of a Schubert Lieder recital (transcribed last summer at Salzburg) which will be broadcast at 8 tonight on WETA-FM.
In a brilliant contrast, "Prometheus" is followed by the gently lyric "Meeres Stille" ("Sea's Tranquility"); than comes "An die Leier" ("To the Lyre"), which balances and contrasts motifs of love and heroism. Intelligent selection and impeccable performance (with fine accomplishments by pianist Joerg Demus) make this wide-ranging program one of the musical experiences of the year. Any year.