SCHUBERT: Lieder (Russell) (Gary Cole/ Lynda Russell/ Peter Hill) (Naxos: 8.553113)
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Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
 Ganymed D. 544 (Op. 19, No.3)
 Liebhaber in allen Gestalten D. 558
 Nacht und Träume D. 827
 Geheimes D. 719 (Op. 14, No.2)
 Abendstern D. 806
 Der Hirt auf dem Felsen D. 965 (Op. 129)
 Suleika D. 720 (Op. 14, No.1)
 Seligkeit D.433
 Wiegenlied D. 498 (Op. 98, No.2)
 Gretchen am Spinnrade D.118 (Op. 2)
 An die Entfemte D. 765
 lm Frühling D. 882 (Op. 101, No.1)
 Suleikas Zweiter Gesang D. 717 (Op. 31)
 Du bist die Ruh D. 776 (Op. 59, No.3)
 Lied der Mignon D. 877/4 (?)
 Nachtviolen D. 752
 Der Musensohn D. 764 (Op. 92, No.1)
 Die Forelle D. 550
Although not of Viennese parentage, Franz Schubert was born in Vienna, the son of a schoolmaster, and spent his short life there, often in the company of friends, who took particular pleasure in the music he wrote for their entertainment. Unlike Beethoven, who died a year before him, he never enjoyed the patronage of the nobility, and occupied no official position in the musical life of the city, although at the time of his death publishers were showing increasing interest in his work. Schubert's early musical training had been as a chorister of the Imperial Chapel, a position that allowed general education at the Staats-Konvikt in Vienna. Rejecting the offer of further study there, he trained briefly as a teacher, and from 1815 taught intermittently at his father's school, while concentrating his energies on composition. He showed a particular gift in the writing of songs, and in 1815 wrote some 150, with 100 more the following year. By the time of his death in November 1828 he had written over 600 songs of unfailing inspiration, miraculous couplings of words and music, in which both melody and piano accompaniment serve a dramatic purpose. The poems chosen vary in quality, with more than seventy settings of words by Goethe, settings of Schiller, of Matthias Claudius, of Heine, of Metastasio, and, in translation, Scott and Shakespeare, with others of verses by less gifted contemporaries and friends, works to which the music has given life and eternity.
The present collection opens with a setting of Goethe' s poem Ganyrned, based on the legend of the beautiful boy Ganymede, seized by Zeus to become cup-bearer to the gods, the final postlude reflecting this ascent. In the lively strophic Liebhaber in allen Gestalten (Love in All Forms), the lover wishes he were a fish, a horse, a carriage or gold, to be with his mistress, but now she must accept him for what he is. The gentle Geheimes (Secret) recognises the loved one's seemingly questing gaze, although the object of love is known to the poet.
Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning-Wheel) is from Goethe's Faust. Here Gretchen spins and longs for the return of her lover, the transformed Faust, who seduces and deserts her. The rhythm of the spinning-wheel is heard in the accompaniment, but finally falters. In An die Entfernte (To the Distant Beloved) the poet calls for the return of the beloved, while in Mignon' s Song, one of four settings of songs from the novel Wilhelm Meister, the mysterious young gypsy waif sings of her sorrow. The lively Der Musensohn (The Son of the Muses) takes the wandering musician through the countryside, longing finally to return to the bosom of the Muses once more. The Suleika songs of Goethe are taken from his collection of poems after the fourteenth century Persian poet Hafiz, the Westöstlicher Divan, Suleika, representing the writer's close friend of those years, Marianne von Willemer, the young wife of a Frankfurt banker, who later claimed authorship of the Suleika songs set by Schubert in 1821, poems included by Goethe in his collection. Suleika, in love, seeks an answer from the east wind from her absent lover, and charges the west wind with her own loving response.
Of the other songs, Die Forelle (The Trout), with words by the eighteenth century poet and musician Christian Schubert, its first version composed in 1817 and later to serve as the basis of a variation movement in the famous Trout Quintet of 1819, deals with innocence deceived, a miniature tragedy in nature. The poet sees an angler and a trout that bids fair to outwit him, only to be caught in the end. The words of Du bist die Ruh (You are rest) are of greater distinction, by the poet and orientalist Friedrich Rückert. Schubert set this and four other poems from a recently published collection of verses by Rückert in 1823. Im Frühling (In the Spring) was written in 1826, a setting of words from the Poetisches Tagebuch of the young poet Ernst Schulze, who had died of tuberculosis in 1817, after the early death of his beloved Cäcilie. The verse recalls a happier spring-time, before the death of his beloved, poignantly remembered. The song Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams), written in 1823, is a setting of words by Matthäus von Collin, tutor to Napoleon's son, the Duke of Reichstadt, with music that captures the tranquillity of the verse, the spirit of holy night and the peaceful dreams it brings with it.
Other songs here included are two settings of poems by Johann Mayrhofer, with whom Schubert shared lodgings for a time. Abendstern (Evening Star) addressed !o the evening star as the star of love, however barren, was written in 1824 and Nachtviolen (Dame's Violets), flowers of the night, written in 1822, meditates on the sombre beauty of the flower. The well known Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The shepherd on the Rock), with its accompanying clarinet, the shepherd's echoing pipe, sets words attributed to Müller, the poet of Schubert's two song-cycles, Die schöne Müllerin (The Fair Daughter of the Miller) and Winterreise (Winter Journey). Seligkeit, by the earlier poet Hölty, a member of the group of poets known as the Göttinger Hainbund, prefers life with the beloved to the life to come, in a cheerful setting, one of a group of songs with words by the same poet written in 1816, when life seemed full of promise.
The English soprano Lynda Russell was born in Birmingham and studied at the Royal College of Music in London, in Paris and in Vienna. Her many prizes and awards include the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship. She has sung in many of the leading opera-houses of the world. At home she has appeared at Glyndebourne, with Opera North, Opera Northern Ireland and the English National Opera, with the last of these at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. she has appeared widely in oratorio and in concert performances, including a BBC television recording of Handel's Messiah with Harry Christophers and The sixteen and a televised performance of the German Requiem of Brahms for BBC Wales. Other engagements have taken her to the major cities of Europe as a concert and recital singer.
Peter Hill read music at Oxford, subsequently studying the piano with Cyril Smith, and later with Nadia Boulanger, who described him as 'a born artist, a beautiful natural talent'. He won first prize at Darmstadt, and has appeared at numerous international festivals, broadcasting regularly in Britain and abroad. He has made nearly a hundred programmes for the BBC, in music ranging from Bach to Brahms, and by all the major figures of the twentieth century. Peter Hill lives in Yorkshire and teaches at the University of sheffield. His recent publications include a major study of Messi