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Rene Pape: Rock star?

January 8, 2011 |  9:30 am

Well, sort of. A profile in the Sunday Arts & Books section of bass-of-the-moment René Pape mentions his recording of an orchestral song cycle based on the songs of German industrial metal band Rammstein.

" 'Mein Herz brennt' was a completely new contemporary song cycle for 100 orchestral musicians by a composer friend of mine Torsten Rasch," Pape said. "It wasn't crossover or anything. It was a totally new piece."

Rasch took the melodies and words from Rammstein’s original songs and reimagined them as a modern-day “Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth).” The pounding guitars and scream-singing in the original are swapped out for an unbelievably gorgeous Mahlerian orchestra.

Compare the original song performed live by Rammstein on the left with Rasch's version sung by Pape on the right.

“When I was younger I didn't care so much about the band, but when this project came on the table I started to be interested in how they make music and their lyrics," Pape said.

Their lyrics, most often in German, contain a lot of wordplay and irony, which easily gets lost in Google Translation. This has resulted in the band being heavily criticized, in the same way Marilyn Manson and other shock rockers are, for inciting listeners to violence.

In response to this, Pape said, "Of course many people push them into a right-wing corner, but they are anything but that. They are really cool guys.”

For more medium versus message fun times, check out Rammstein's setting of the Goethe poem "Der Erlkönig", the same text Schubert used in his famous song of the same name.

-- Marcia Adair