Batman & Robin,
Superman & Lois Lane,
Goldfinger & James Bond,
Little Mouse & Monsterlet,
Miss Dracula & Herr Frankenstein!! & ...
In 1971 the Viennese chansonnier/conductor/composer H.K. Gruber composed the pretty insane pandemonium Frankenstein!! on texts from “Allerleirausch. Neue schöne Kinderreime” (Noises, noises, all around – lovely new children’s rhymes) by H.C. Artmann. Monsters, cannibals and superheroes populate his mocking children’s rhymes. This refreshing satire, peppered with musical humor and ambiguous imagery, hilariously teases young and old alike.
The title of Artmann’s book promises something innocuous. He himself has described the poems as being, ‘covert political statements’ but he refused to explain what he meant. But his reticence is eloquent: monsters have always tried to hide their true faces, and all too often succeed in doing so.
Frankenstein – or whoever we choose to identify with that name – is not the protagonist, but the figure behind the scenes whom we forget at our peril. Hence the exclamation marks!
Artmann’s demystification of heroic villains or villainous heroes finds a musical parallel in a.o. the persistent alienation of conventional orchestral sound by resorting to a cupboard-full of toy instruments and the combination of a wide array of musical idioms with newer and more popular ones thus remaining true to the deceptive simplicity of texts whose forms at first glance suggest a naive and innocently cheerful atmosphere.
Sebastiaan Van Doninck’s enchanting drawings magnificently illustrate the tales sung and narrated by Mauro Pawlowski.
H.K. Gruber (°1943)
Sebastiaan Van Doninck
SPECTRA conducted by Filip Rathé
Mauro Pawlowski, chansonnier