SCHUBERT: Lied Edition 13 - Goethe, Vol. 2 (Andreas Werner/ Christian Elsner/ Ruth Ziesak/ Ulrich Eisenlohr) (Naxos: 8.554666)
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DEUTSCHESCHUBERT-LIED-EDITION, Vol. 13Franz Schubert
Goethe Songs, Vol. 2 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 school days, 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 Mathison, 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 eighteenth-century Germanauthors, early Romantics, Biedermeier poets, his contemporaries, and, ofcourse, 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 GermanLieder singers, performers whose artistic contribution, he believes, will standthe test of time.
------ "Yearningfor tender love is symbolized in music"
-- Women's Songs by Schubert to texts by GoetheGoethewas happy with the composer who set his poems to music: "He hits thecharacter of such a one, in similar strophes, the whole returning excellentlyso that it is felt again in each individual part, whereas others, by so-calledthrough-composition, destroy the impression of the whole through emphasizingparticular elements." The one who is praised here is, as everyone knows,not Schubert, but Karl Friedrich Zelter (1758-1832) and his simple, plain(today almost completely forgotten) melodies. Franz Schubert would have beencounted by Goethe, if he had actually been aware of him, one of those otherintrusive 'through-composers' and for that reason alone in 1816 and 1825 thetwo collections of settings of his poems, which the Vienna composer had sent toWeimar in search of acknowledgement, had been carelessly brushed aside.
Paradoxically the poet, whose works 'fell like sparks of fire in the fresh,youthful, yet completely unprejudiced soul of Schubert' (Eduard von Bauernfeld),could so little relate to 'his' composer. Yet Schubert too had started 'traditionally',completely in the Goethe and Zelter way, but in his Goethe settings Schubertgradually moved away from the strophic pattern, for example with his numerousversions, between 1815 and 1826, of the four Mignon songs from WilhelmMeister
, which had appeared in 1795. The mysterious child Mignon embodiespoetry in a prosaic world and is the central figure in the novel. Indeed,Goethe declared that it was 'for this character' that he had 'written the wholework'. 'The special nature of the good child ... consists almost in a profoundyearning', and this 'reaches into an endless distance', it says in the novel,and in the wanderlust ballad 'Kennst du das Land' (D. 321), that appeared in1782 and was set by Schubert on 23rd October 1815, is found the exact stagedirection for the musical performance of the 'little song'. In the thirdstrophe the song became gloomier and darker' (Schubert changes here into theminor and marks the passage at 'es st??rzt der Fels' with a darker unison); 'thewords 'kennst du es wohl' she expressed mysteriously and deliberately'(Schubert holds back the music in a fermata), 'in the 'dahin! dahin!' lay anirresistible yearning, and in her 'La?ƒ uns ziehn!' she knew, by eachrepetition, so to modify it that it was now pleading and urgent, now pressingand promising'. The chromatic triplets of the piano give an 'impulse offorward-striving movement' (Chochlow) and Goethe's concise refrain becomes,through the repetitions of the text, extended to an independent 'somewhatfaster' in the music (the word 'dahin' comes six times in Goethe and 33 timesin Schubert).
Mignonyearns for 'that place', the south, also in her second song. She sings thepainfully monotonous 'Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt' (twelve lines with only tworhyming syllables) together with the Harper, and so one of the six differentarrangements that Schubert made of this text was conceived also as a duet fortenor and soprano (D. 877/1). The first of the four settings for soprano waswritten in two slightly differing versions on one day, 18th October 1815 (D. 310).
The second (D. 359) and the third settings (D. 481) were written about a yearlater, while the last (D. 877/4) is dated 1826. Common to all settings is thethree-part structure of the twelve lines of the verse. After the lyricalinterlude 'Ach! Der mich liebt und kennt' there follows, the dramatic outburst 'Esschwindelt mir' accompanied by piano tremolo and bold harmonic progressions,after which the song returns to the musical mood of the opening lines, perhapsmost convincingly effected in the last treatment. This setting, which waswritten only at the insistence of the publisher as an alternative to the duetmentioned above, is part of a short cycle with two other Mignon songs, whichSchubert published in 1826 as Opus 62 (D. 877), first of all with the poem 'Hei?ƒmich nicht reden, hei?ƒ mich schweigen', in which Mignon describes theloneliness and isolation of her 'rootless' being, and which Schubert hadalready set in April 1821. This first setting (D. 726) was in the 'death' keyof B minor and quoted the 'slow pavane rhythm' known in Schubert as the 'deathmotif'. The second setting (D. 877/2) brings, in the return of the theme ('Einjeder sucht'), an unexpected shift into the major and forms the end of the song('Allein ein Schwur') with inexorable piano chords and the expressiverepetition '...nur ein Gott, ein Gott', intensified and rising to a fortissimo.
Mignon'slast song, 'So la?ƒt mich scheinen, bis ich werde', sings of her tragic end, butalso of her hope for enlightenment and redemption. 'With incredible courage'the 'boy-girl' in her white angelic clothing delivers her song of departure anddeath. Schubert's second setting (D. 727) from 1821 brings a chorale-like,simple declamation of the text in a static, unvaried and 'withdrawn' melody.
The final setting (D. 877/3) from the cycle, Op. 62, dispenses with anyrepetition of the text, apart from the emphatic 'auf ewig' at the end. The Fsharp ever present in the first setting as a pedal point (suggesting the 'deathknell') comes still more strongly into the foreground; the strange floating an