SCHUBERT: Lied Edition 1 - Winterreise (Roman Trekel/ Ulrich Eisenlohr) (Naxos: 8.554471)
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DEUTSCHESCHUBERT-LIED-EDITION, Vol. 1Franz Schubert
Winterreise The Edition
In1816 Franz Schubert, together with his circle of friends, decided to publish acollection of all the songs which he had so far written. Joseph Spaun, whomSchubert had known since his schooldays, tried his (and Schubert's) luck in aletter to the then unquestioned Master of the German language, Johann Wolfgangvon Goethe:
A selection of German songs will constitute thebeginning of this edition; it will consist of eight volumes. The first two (thefirst of which, as an example, you will find in our letter) contains poemswritten by your Excellency, the third, poetry by Schiller, the fourth andfifth, works by Klopstock, the sixth by Matthison, Holty, Salis etc., theseventh and eighth contain songs by Ossian, whose works are quite exceptional.
TheDeutsche Schubert-Lied-Edition follows the composer's original concept. AllSchubert's Lieder
, over 700 songs, will be grouped according to thepoets who inspired him, or according to the circle of writers, contemporaries,members of certain literary movements and so on, whose works Schubert chose toset to music. Fragments and alternative settings, providing their length andquality make them worth recording, and works for two or more voices with pianoaccompaniment will also make up a part of the edition.
Schubertset the poetry of over 115 writers to music. He selected poems from classicalGreece, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, from 18th-century German authors,early Romantics, Biedermeier
poets, his contemporaries, and, of course,finally, poems by Heinrich Heine, although, sadly, the two never met.
Theentire edition is scheduled for completion by 2005. Thanks to the NeueSchubert-Ausgabe
(New Schubert Edition), published by Barenreiter, whichuses primary sources - autograph copies wherever possible - the performers havebeen able to benefit from the most recent research of the editorial team. Forthe first time, the listener and the interested reader can follow Schubert'stextual alterations and can appreciate the importance the written word had forthe composer.
Theproject's Artistic Advisor is the pianist Ulrich Eisenlohr, who has chosenthose German-speaking singers who represent the elite of today's young German Lieder
singers, performers whose artistic contribution, he believes, will stand thetest of time.
Never are we more exposed to sufferingWinterreise
than when we love; never more helplessly unhappy
than when we have lost a beloved person or their love.
-- Sigmund Freud
(Winter Journey) is the monologueof a desperate, deeply sad person, disappointed in love. The tale is astrangely moving one; not so much because the protagonist has been jilted byhis faithless mistress, who then becomes a rich man's bride, but because of hispersonal reaction to this situation, or rather, because of the consequences ithas for him.
Thisreal-life experience is internalised and becomes so much a part of his ownpsyche that he can no longer distinguish between his inner world and the worldoutside, which become strangely confused. Natural phenomena and objects such assnow, ice, wind, a storm, a stream, a river, a will-o'-the-wisp, a linden tree,things created by human hand such as a weather-vane, a sign-post or a cemetery,turn into expressions of his own psychological state. What is more, he does notimmediately transfer the love which his beloved has rejected to another person(as any ordinary mortal who believed in life and love would wish to do toprotect his ego); instead he re-assimilates it into his own self. The belovedsets up home in his heart which 'seems to be dead': 'her picture is frozenwithin it' ('Erstarrung').
The jiltedlover continues his love affair in narcissistic self-punishment, identifyinghimself with the ghost of his beloved and nurturing his sufferings: 'When mypain becomes silent, who will speak to me of her?' (No. 4. 'Erstarrung'). Thus,his inability to form a new attachment and his complete loss of interest in theoutside world form the tragic pillars of his existence. His flight from thetown, 'Where once I had a dear sweetheart' ('Die Post') reveals itselfas an attempt to escape from the world. But we cannot run away from the world, 'Weare in it once and for all', as Schubert's contemporary Christian D. Grabbe putit.
Therejected lover is overpowered by deep depression; by a fundamental insecuritybordering on desperation, from which memories of his previous existence breakoff like splinters: 'When storms were still raging I was not in such misery' ('Einsamkeit'),'You, too, my heart, though wild and daring in strife and storm' ('Rast') tothe point of adolescent scornful defiance: 'If there's no God on earth, Then weare gods ourselves' ('Mut!').
But thelife-affirming struggle for existence has already been lost, the 'leaf of hope'has fallen to the ground, and he with it. The outwardly directed life-forcewhich lies at the root of the human psyche turns in upon itself, and therebybecomes a self-destroying power. Life's charm seems to him to be a burden: 'Alas,that the air is so calm! Alas that the world is so bright!' ('Einsamkeit'). Thecurrents of his subconscious are sucking him down into the frozen numbness ofwinter; an isolated outcast, he rejects the world.
All throughliterature winter has been used as a metaphor for just such extreme loneliness,desperation and desolation, as in the following anonymous poem written in 1467:
Snow has fallen,
And yet it is not the season,
They are throwing snowballs at me,
My path lies deep in snow.
My house has no gable,
It seems it has grown old
The bolts are broken,
In my little room I am cold.
Oh my love, take pity on me,
For I am so forsaken,
Only hold me in your arms,
Then winter will depart.
In despairover his own disillusionment, loss of purpose, over his alienation andcynicism, his ego consumes itself. He permits himself one or two dreams: 'Idreamt of love requited, of a beautiful maiden, Of hearts and kisses, ofrapture and bliss' ('Fruhlingstraum'); 'When that day' (on which two maiden'seyes were glowing) 'comes to my mind, I wish to look back again, I wish tostagger back again, and stand still before her house' ('Ruckblick'). Hisfeelings of inferiority make him intuitively aware, at the same time, that heis deluding himself: 'You're laughing, most likely, at the dreamer who sawflowers in the winter' ('Fruhlingstraum'); 'Only illusion can profit me now' ('Tauschung').
He criticises himself in a peculiar vein: his tears, for instance, though theyare 'so burning hot' still turn to ice: 'Are you so luke-warm then?' ('GefrorneTranen'). In 'Der Wegweiser' he criticizes the 'foolish longing' which hasdriven him into the wilderness, though he has no sin to expurgate (really?).
Takentogether, these contradictions give rise to certain suspicions and we mustwonder whether there is something that he is not telling us. And what is themeaning of that 'serpent' which he can pacify by wildly thrashing his waythrough life but which awakens when he has no other recourse but to himself: 'Youtoo, my heart, though wild and daring in strife and storm, only when it