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Track(s) taken from CDJ33026

Widerspruch, D865

First line:
Wenn ich durch Busch und Zweig
1826 (?); first published in November 1828 (two days after Schubertís death) as Op 105 No 1
author of text

The London Schubert Chorale, Stephen Layton (conductor), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: February 1996
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown & Martin Compton
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: September 1996
Total duration: 3 minutes 39 seconds


'A wondrous addition to this unique venture, it is hard to know where to begin in its praise' (Gramophone)

'Superb. Schubert at his finest. An indispensable disc. An exciting and varied programme of wonderful music' (Classic CD)

'As this wonderful series nears completion, so one's gratitude and admiration reach new heights' (Hi-Fi News)

'Un disco totalmente recomendable' (Opéra Actual)
It is this chorus which headed the collection of songs published on the day of Schubert's funeral. The others were Wiegenlied (on this disc), Am Fenster and Sehnsucht, a complete Seidl opus in fact. Widerspruch was issued with a rider which explained that it could be performed either by four voices or as a solo song using the first tenor line. This made sense only commercially. Some of the song-buying public may have been disconcerted to find a choral work rubbing shoulders with Lieder (although this was not the first time Schubert had mixed the two in an opus) which might have made Opus 105 seem bad value for money for the aspiring soloist. From the musical point of view, however, this implication that Widerspruch could also be sung as a solo song was a disastrous idea. There was no modification by the composer between the two versions, and the sturdy piano part, suitably hale and hearty for the chorus, seems hopelessly stolid and unimaginative by Schubert's own standards when accompanying a single voice. Most of the vocal line is relentlessly doubled by the piano, and this consigns the song to the schoolroom. It seems likely that this 'two-for-the-price-of-one' concept was a brainwave of the publisher, and that Schubert had been too ill to gainsay the idea in the last weeks of his life. Czerny's advertisement in the Wiener Zeitung of 21 November 1828 even states that Widerspruch is also available as a quartet, falsely implying that the solo song represents the composer's original thoughts. The solo version was published separately for the first time in Volume 5 of the Neue Schubert Ausgabe, although it was ignored by Mandyczewski.

The key is D major – more important, as Reed points out, as a symphonic key for Schubert, than as a favourite song tonality. But there is something symphonic about this music, and the introduction immediately takes us out into the open air. The poem is taken from a section of the 1826 edition of Seidl's poetry entitled Jägerlieder ('Hunting Poems'). The piano introduction bids us stride through the countryside, and we can hear the sound of the hunting-horn somewhere in the inner parts. The eighth and ninth bars have a succession of thirds (another hunting motif perhaps) hammered out high on the keyboard in double octaves. The insistence on this falling interval is reminiscent of a similar figure in the first movement of the A minor Piano Sonata, D784. The poem has two strophes with a rhyme scheme in couplets which results in a relentless and breathless succession of two-bar phrases. Such is the quality of the tune, and the sense of energy inherent in men's voices singing together, that we scarcely notice this. (Seidl even implies shortness of breath in the 'Luftgedräng' of the second verse!) At 'wölbt sich das Laubgemach' there is a shift into the subdominant (G major) and this leads triumphantly to four bars in B flat major followed by a return to the tonic in second inversion. This is bracing stuff, the dactylic rhythms imparting a sense of exhilaration in nature, the repeated motifs having a Beethovenian stolidity. However, just in case we had imagined that this has a little too much in common with hearty German hiking music, the second verse takes us into another world. For no fewer than twenty-two bars all four voice parts and piano are in hushed unison. This successfully paints the sense of awe, even fear (is it agoraphobia?) as the poet stands up in the mountains looking down at sunset in the valley. Before 'Und in ein Kämmerlein' the music pivots on two bars of double-octave C sharps played softly on the piano. Where are we going? The flowering into F sharp major with the entry of the voices, four-part harmony after so much unison singing, is a moment of true Schubertian magic, the whole section a marvel of tenderness. The contradictory feelings inherent in the song's title are here illustrated: when push comes to shove, the poet feels happiest at home in Vienna in his 'Kämmerlein', and this is where the poem ends. Schubert however will have none if it. He repeats the first verse of the poem, and its music, as if the poet's 'Widerspruch' has been a momentary aberration. This is a chorus for happy hunters after all, and there has to be music to march them home.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1996

Other albums featuring this work

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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