The audio books of the month – culture


A long drawn-out trumpet blast sets the cool tone that Ulrich Lamp’s radio play adaptation of Françoise Sagan’s famous novel “Bonjour tristesse” shapes. Later, the Big Band of the Hessian Broadcasting Corporation will add a decidedly summery flair to it. A guitar plays in the foreground, easy and relaxed, and one immediately imagines oneself with the first-person narrator Cécile in a sophisticated villa on the Mediterranean (DAV, 1 CD, 1 hour 16 minutes).

New audio books in November: Francoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse.

Francoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse.

(Photo: DAV)

It’s a holiday that the seventeen-year-old is spending with her Playboy father Raymond and his lover Elsa, a red-haired “half-world lady”. One lives in the day, chatting about love, desire. Cécile seduces a student, otherwise she is dozing: “This summer is holding me in the sand with all its force.” A finely balanced idyll in the shimmering heat that gets thrown out of balance when fashion designer Anne Larson appears. She wants to marry Raymond as strict as she is elegant, as clever as she is haughty. Cécile admires and at the same time fears the friend of her mother, who died young. Seeing her freedom threatened, she begins to scheme, which ends fatally.

Published in 1954, the slim book made the then just 18-year-old Sagan famous overnight. A year later, Helga Treichl translated it into German. It sold millions of copies. A few years ago, Rainer Moritz gave “Bonjour tristesse” a fancy update. The HR production, which features Elisa Schlott as Cécile, is based on his translation. A young woman speaks from her between self-confidence and egotism, lust for life and ennui. Sometimes she laughs loud and dirty, sometimes she sounds tired and overcast. For the new 2017 edition, Sibylle Berg wrote the afterword: “Regardless of whether women appear humorous, combative, self-confident, with factual knowledge and studied intellect, there is still great astonishment that they can speak. That they have claims.”

New audiobooks for November: Sweet Paris Reloaded" by Alfred 23 Harth and Peter Fey.

Sweet Paris Reloaded” by Alfred 23 Harth and Peter Fey.

(Photo: Moloko)

In 1990, the writer and visual artist Wolf Pehlke wrote letters to the jazz musician and multimedia artist Alfred 23 Harth. In it he reports on his stay in Paris, which took on existential dimensions: “The future will be fragmentary.”

Harth processed these letters on his CD “Sweet Paris”, which was released a year later – a free and artificial text-sound collage. Jazz meets original sounds from the French capital, the noise of the metro, the babble of babies, the splashing of fountains. An American actress and passers-by read from the letters. It’s about exposing the meaning. One understands little and feels Helmut Heissenbüttel’s plea for “an acoustic literature and literary acoustics”.

“Sweet Paris” has now been re-released on the Moloko plus label in a remastered form. Supplemented by the radio play “Sweet Paris Reloaded”, produced for SWR in 2021, in which Alfred 23 Harth and Peter Fey once again take on the decades-old material and reassemble it (2 CDs with a running time of 64 minutes and 62 minutes).

The result is an artistic tribute to Pehlke, who died in 2013 – the focus here is on the content of the expressive letters. Underlaid with an almost pop-flaky sound, they are read with crystal-clear hardness by Wolfram Koch, Julia Mantel and Nicole Van den Plas. Wolf Pehlke is recognizable as a voyeur and flaneur with “overwrought nerves”, who roams the cemeteries during the day and through the bistros at night. A lost observer who still loves the world as he did as a child, and for that very reason despairs of her.

New audio books in November: Herbert Rubinstein: My four lives.

Herbert Rubinstein: My four lives.

(Photo: Griot)

The contemporary witnesses of the Holocaust are becoming fewer and fewer. At the same time, anti-Semitism is growing. “Against forgetting” is therefore the subtitle of the audio book “My Four Lives”, published by the audio book publisher Griot (1 CD, approx. 72 minutes). Herbert Rubinstein, now 86 years old and long-time managing director of the State Association of Jewish Communities in North Rhine, talks about his childhood in Chernivtsi – his parents’ acquaintances included the opera singer Joseph Schmidt, Rose Auslander and Paul Celan.

Rubinstein survived the Holocaust and after the war went first to Amsterdam and later to Düsseldorf. He visited his native city again for the first time in 2017. The audio book is based on conversations that Sabine Schiffner had with him. The concept for this comes from Jan Rohlfing, who also composed the music. Borrowing from waltzes, klezmer and chamber music, it takes up Rubinstein’s impressive memories. Memories written under the encouraging motto of life: “Good will win.”



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