About this Recording
8.572322 - SCHUBERT, F.: Lied Edition 35 - Rarities, Fragments, and Alternative Versions
English  German 

THE DEUTSCHE SCHUBERT-LIED-EDITION

In 1816 Franz Schubert, together with his circle of friends, decided to publish a collection of all the songs which he had so far written. Joseph Spaun, whom Schubert had known since his school days, tried his (and Schubert’s) luck in a letter to the then unquestioned Master of the German language, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:

A selection of German songs will constitute the beginning of this edition; it will consist of eight volumes. The first two (the first of which, as an example, you will find in our letter) contains poems written by your Excellency, the third, poetry by Schiller, the fourth and fifth, works by Klopstock, the sixth by Mathison, Hölty, Salis etc., the seventh and eighth contain songs by Ossian, whose works are quite exceptional.

The Deutsche Schubert-Lied-Edition follows the composer’s original concept. All Schubert’s Lieder, over 700 songs, will be grouped according to the poets who inspired him, or according to the circle of writers, contemporaries, members of certain literary movements and so on, whose works Schubert chose to set to music. Fragments and alternative settings, providing their length and quality make them worth recording, and works for two or more voices with piano accompaniment will also make up a part of the edition.

Schubert set the poetry of over 115 writers to music. He selected poems from classical Greece, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, from eighteenth-century German authors, early Romantics, Biedermeier poets, his contemporaries, and, of course, finally, poems by Heinrich Heine, although sadly the two never met.

The entire edition is scheduled for completion by 2010. Thanks to the Neue Schubert Ausgabe (New Schubert Edition), published by Bärenreiter, which uses primary sources—autograph copies wherever possible—the performers have been able to benefit from the most recent research of the editorial team. For the first time, the listener and the interested reader can follow Schubert’s textual alterations and can appreciate the importance the written word had for the composer.

The project’s Artistic Advisor is the pianist Ulrich Eisenlohr, who has chosen those German-speaking singers who represent the élite of today’s young German Lieder singers, performers whose artistic contribution, he believes, will stand the test of time.

 

Franz Peter Schubert (1797–1828)
Rarities, Fragments, and Alternative Versions

This last instalment of our complete recording of Schubert’s songs contains two which Schubert intended to be accompanied by instruments other than the piano, and fragments and drafts for songs which are sometimes heard exactly as they have come down to us and at other times in subsequent completions. Many of these fragments were left uncompleted by Schubert and in other cases parts of the autograph manuscript are missing so that one can only speculate how they would have continued. Also included are some alternative versions and arrangements of previously recorded songs which are worth hearing, two drafts for songs which have survived without texts, and compositions which fall between song and other genres (sacred songs and sacred choruses).

We begin with three songs reminiscent of the Schiller settings (cf. Schiller-Lieder Vols. 1–4, Naxos 8.554740, 8.554741, 8.557369–70). In all, Schubert set 32 poems by Schiller, fifteen of them even two or three times, so it is a case partly of rearrangements and partly of new works. This high tally of new revisions of the same text hints at the difficulty of setting Schiller’s lyrics. Whereas Goethe was mostly an intuitive creator, basing his work on personal experience—producing, as it were, a psychological “lyrical experience”—Schiller’s poetry is more reflective, often inflated by philosophical thought. “The poet usually rushed past me, when I should have philosophized and I should have set the philosophical spirit to poetry,” he admitted in respect of Goethe. And yet—but probably just because of that—Schubert, particularly in his youth, seems to have felt a special affinity with Schiller’s poems; he was probably fascinated by the relationship between the powerfully eloquent flexibility of the metaphorical language and the philosophical depth of the thoughts.

His first setting of Schiller’s poem Das Mädchen aus der Fremde, D. 117 [1] (The Maiden from Afar), of October 1814 is in a rocking siciliano rhythm; it has a catchy melody, is folk-like in style and composed in a varied strophic form. In the second version D. 252 (Schiller-Lieder Vol. 2), written nine months later, one can hear no trace of any stylistic development when compared with the earlier one; on the contrary Schubert seems to have been so affected by Schiller’s poetic parable of the girl, who comes to mankind from unknown regions, from “another sunlight”, endowed with her gifts from “a happier nature”, that he wrote two quite different settings of equal value but of a similarly simple beauty.

Schiller’s poem Laura am Klavier [2] (Laura at the Piano) posed Schubert a difficult compositional task: he had to make audible simultaneously both Laura’s marvellous piano playing, praying “for life and death”, as well as the rhapsodic reaction of the lyrical “self”. Two versions of the song, D. 388, were written in March 1816. The musical character of both songs is closely related, yet the first version, heard here, appears clearly to be a precursor of the more mature second version (in Schiller-Lieder Vol. 1): what here sounds simple, but musically somewhat conventional in its cantata-like alternation between recitative and arioso is, in the later version, heightened substantially with the retention of the thematic material and the formal structure, but moulded into a musical equivalent of Schiller’s highly artificial writing.

The second version of Schubert’s Entzückung an Laura, D. 577 [3] (Enchanted by Laura), has survived only in two substantial fragments; the missing section, which came between these fragments, was obviously written on a page of manuscript paper which has since been lost, while Schubert did not set the last three verses of the final verse. Our recording contains a completion of this fragment by the Franciscan father and Schubert-researcher Reinhard van Hoorickx. Completions of musical fragments are problematic in many instances, yet this one can be justified by the fact that Schubert had, as it were, already composed something in between the missing sections. In this case for instance the probable continuation can be worked out from the musical-thematic material at the beginning of the second verse, so it must not simply be composed anew in a speculative manner. The same principle applies to the end of the work. So the completed version reveals an interplay, rich in contrasts, between enthusiastically forward-moving and gently-sung sections; a recitative section represents a significant punctuation point before the final passage. Although the song is “through-composed” a reversion to previously-used musical motifs gives rise to a rounded, totally unified overall musical picture. Looking back at the completely different, strictly-structured strophic first version D. 390 (Schiller-Lieder Vol. 1), Schubert here comes closer to the Laura poem but with a completely different formal structure.

To describe the Gesang in c, D. 1a [4] (Song in C minor), as the earliest surviving Schubert song is only half the truth. Written probably in 1810, or even earlier, it is only an outline of a song; the text is missing and it was not composed right through to the end. That it must be a song (or an aria with piano accompaniment) can easily be deduced from the behaviour of the melodic line: its speech-like gestures, its many repetitions of notes and syllables and recitative sections leave no other possible conclusion. As far as the text that Schubert had in front of him is concerned, there has long been speculation; to this day no definite conclusions have been reached. From the fact that the same thematic material can be heard in certain places in the later Lebenstraum, D. 39, one can draw the conclusion that the Song in C minor uses the same text. Yet even in D. 39 the completion of the text is very problematic in some places: here Schubert wrote out the text only up to bar 20 of the melody and the complete poem had been unknown for a long time. From this discovery the continuation of the text could be tackled, yet it appeared that this had to mesh throughout with the melodic character, in order to make it fit the text.

In the Song in C minor, D. 1a. the underlay of the same poem would be possible in many places but would be harder to achieve and often have to be forced into shape, and so it must be assumed either that Schubert had a very different version of Gabriele von Baumberg’s poem, or that he had a long-lost draft of it. For that reason our recording presents the work with the cello as the melody instrument; so, apart from a few octave transpositions, Schubert’s work remains untouched. In spite of this, the work is astonishing in many ways: at 394 bars long it is anything but the modest beginner’s song of a gifted thirteen-year old pupil. It is highly ambitious in the sophisticated organization of its individual musical sections, dynamic in its dramaturgical structure and in the contrasts between the parts, even if it is sometimes long-winded, even “eloquent” and wonderfully “singable” from time to time, and touching in its command of melody. With this work a new kid on the block announces himself; a newcomer who was clearly not happy simply to adopt the models of the classical, modestly-strophic settings of lyrics following the aesthetic principles of a Zelter or a Reichardt. Lebenstraum, D. 39 [7] (Dream of Life), shows itself to be of a similarly high standard. Its formal structure is similar, with its succession of contrasting sections and in its alternation between recitative and arioso passages. Its fragmented form is extended on this recording by the recitation of the final sections of the poem which Schubert did not set. So at least the full, even vaulting artistic, ambition of the truly creative person can be heard in the setting of this poem. Schubert might have felt enthusiastic about it as a visionary anticipation of his own compositional path. The missing sections of text (like all the other completions of fragments on this recording) have been provided by Reinhard van Hoorickx.

Zur Namensfeier des Herrn Andreas Siller, D. 83 [5] (For the Name Day of Herr Siller) and the work with an “aria” entitled Auf den Sieg der Deutschen, D. 81 [6] (On the Victory of the German Armies), both by unknown poets, are given here not with piano but accompanied by other instruments: the first song, with harp and violin accompaniment is, as the name suggests, an occasional work of a cheerfully relaxed character. Nothing is known about Herr Siller’s relationship to the Schubert family. Auf den Sieg der Deutschen, D. 81, for voice, two violins and cello, to an anonymous text, refers to the famous Battle of the Nations at Leipzig in October 1813, in which the allied powers of Prussia, Austria and Russia overthrew Napoleon, so ending French domination of Europe. Like the song Die Befreier Europas in Paris, D. 104, (The Liberators of Europe in Paris), (Austrian Contemporaries Vol. 2, Naxos 8.557172) of the following year, it is written in a chauvinistic patriotic style which can only be accounted for by the traumatic humiliation experienced by the peoples of Austria and Prussia afflicted by Napoleon’s campaigns and the effect which these had on the forward-looking ideals of the French revolution.

There follow four songs which can be heard as a coherent mini-cycle tracing a girl’s phases of life from childhood to youth. A copy of the Lied eines Kindes, D. 596 [8] (A Child’s Song), poet unknown, has survived almost intact; only the setting of the last line of verse is missing but it has been completed on our recording. The cheerfully-naive character of this little song and its idyllic carefree quality lend it a Mozartian charm. Bei dem Grabe meines Vaters, D. 496 [9] (At My Father’s Grave), to a text by Matthias Claudius, is more a song of thanksgiving than one of mourning of a young man for his dead father. The classically-simple harmony adheres closely to the home key of E flat major and avoids any kind of chromaticism. Set against this the melody is a wide-ranging arioso, with predominantly downward-moving lines; the piano accompaniment is rich in its various uses of broken chords, repetition and changes between legato and staccato: at the words ‘und ich kann’s ihm nicht vergelten’ (‘and I can never repay him’) it stops on a chord on the dominant and at first the vocal part yields but then repeats its melodic phrase intensified in a higher register, only finally to come together with the accompaniment of the continuation and completion of the verse of the melody, as though in sympathy with it. Der Knabe in der Wiege, D. 579 [10] (The Baby in the Cradle), in its second version has survived only as a fragment; the extant autograph breaks off at the end of the second page, so it was presumably written down to the end. Although musically it is not substantially different from the first version (see Schubert’s Friends Vol. 2, Naxos 8.557171) there is an interesting divergence in respect of its sound: the second version has been transposed from C major down to A flat major, so that this song is a third lower. But at the same time Schubert has written the piano part, which was originally an octave below the voice, a sixth higher, so that the piano and vocal parts are in the same register, blending to produce a quite new, less separated, almost more intimate sound-spectrum. Occasionally small alterations can bring about significant effects in the music. The sketch for the song Nur wer die Liebe kennt, D. 513a [11] (Only He Who Knows Love), is based on a poem by Zacharias Werner. It paraphrases Goethe’s famous Mignon song Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (Only he who knows what longing is) with which Schubert had wrestled in a total of five different versions. This, together with the title “Impromptu”, a title borrowed from the language of music, could have sparked Schubert’s interest in the poem. The first half of the fragment is complete, but thereafter there is only a vocal part, without piano accompaniment, up to the end of the sixth line of the poem; the last seven lines of the poem were not set. We present here a complete version to the end of what Schubert wrote down musically, which should be fairly authentic at least in terms of the harmonic progression, since this is essentially a given from the written melody. The excited musical momentum of the opening, with its wide-ranging melody, carries us though to the end of the sketch.

A fourteen-bar fragment of Schubert’s first version of Schiller’s Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, D. 396 [12] (Group from Tartarus), has survived. The work was probably continued on a second, now lost, sheet. In comparison with the famous, second complete version of the song (D. 583, Schiller-Lieder Vol. 2) the fragment presented here is, right from the beginning with its two-bar prelude, shorter, more concentrated and less expansive. It seems noticeable that, after the opening vocal phrases, the harmonic and melodic development after ‘weint ein Bach’ (‘A brook sobs’), the tension mounts, thrusting upwards as in the later version, but descends into an almost bottomless depth, before in the last bar, at the words ‘Schmerz verzerret’ (‘Pain distorts’), there is a counter-movement almost like a composed outcry.

Schubert’s first rapprochement with Goethe’s Mignon poem So laßt mich scheinen, D. 469 [13] (Such let me seem, until such I be) has survived in two fragments. The first, of seven bars, Schubert crossed out in the manuscript, while the second, eleven bars long, has been identified in a sheet which is now lost. Both are of a fragile beauty, like isolated pieces of mosaic, which scarcely allow one to guess the shape of the whole; and yet, or perhaps because of their lapidary brevity, they are of a rare intensity. The same can be said of the Liedentwurf in a, D555 [14] (Fragment in A minor), which appears, with no text, on a sheet of manuscript paper; perhaps there once existed a second sheet on which the work was continued. The contrast between the austere, poignant minor-key beginning and the gently-flowing dance-like section in the major has, even with no text, eloquence and expressiveness in this realisation by the cello. Four sacred songs, in the widest sense, close this recording. Schubert notated Das große Halleluja, D. 442 [15] (The Great Hallelujah) and Schlachtgesang, D. 443 [17] (Battle Song), after Klopstock, with two systems, rather than the usual three used for solo songs with piano, with the text placed between the two systems. As a result it cannot be known whether he had conceived them as solo songs or as choral pieces—or perhaps he had not reached a definite decision on the matter. Das große Halleluja could easily be realised as a three-part choral movement with continuo accompaniment while Schlachtgesang could be a three- or four-part movement for chorus. Yet it is perhaps a performance by a solo voice, as on our recording, that produces the most most convincing results. Das große Halleluja sounds like a substantial dramatic hymn to Almighty God, in a quasi Baroque style, while Schlachtgesang is an odd hybrid between an invocation to God and a military quick march. Of a quite different character is Evangelium Johannis, D. 607 [16] (The Gospel according to Saint John), the autograph of which consists only of a vocal part and a figured-bass part. This work, written at the suggestion of Schubert’s friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner, flows past quietly, with quasi-liturgical gestures; it is narrative, meditative and, in some passages, melodically intense and insistent. It is Schubert’s only composition to set a prose text.

Schubert set Goethe’s Gesang der Geister über den Wassern [18] (Song of the Spirits over the Waters) four times in all. The parable of the wandering of the human soul through life, which is likened to water rising from its mountainous sources and proceeding to the “smooth” sea, might have spoken to Schubert’s innermost heart as well, and furnished him with a variety of possibilities to depict in music the flowing, foaming, splashing and raging of water. Throughout his life Schubert represented these elements of water in countless different ways and it inspired from him some of his greatest music. The first version of Gesang der Geister über den Wassern, D. 484, which is recorded here, was probably a complete work, but only a fragment of it has survived. It comprises a setting from the end of the second verse (‘Leis rauschend dann…’/’Then gently murmuring’) up to the beginning of the sixth and last verse (‘wie gleichst du dem Wasser’/’How like the water’). Perhaps this version is not as inspired as the later ones for four- and eight-parts, yet the fact that Schubert re-used passages from this version in the following ones, is a sign of an inner relationship, for further development and perfection.

The completion here, once again by Reinhard van Hoorickx, sensibly uses Schubert’s music of the beginning of the last verse of the poem (‘Seele des Menschen, wie gleichst du dem Wasser’/‘Soul of man, how like the water’) similar in form to the beginning (‘Des Menschen Seele gleicht dem Wasser’/‘The soul of man is like the water’). So an impression of a closed form emerges, but with related opening and closing sections. The almost-complete three contrasting middle sections give rise to music of wonderful vividness and highly-suggestive power; Schubert really seems to have been in his element here.


Ulrich Eisenlohr
English version: David Stevens


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