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All this gives the impression (almost unknown in Schubert) that the tune was thought of before the words, or at the very least the tune took on a life of its own in the process of composition and the rhythm of the words was made to fit it. The end syllable ‘-cket’ falls twice on a downbeat, which is not the best of word setting. There are a few illustrative touches however which would seem to argue that the composer’s musical inspiration was, as ever, ruled by the text: the two phrases which make up ‘Überall wo / hin, mein Auge’ are identical, which gives the impression of repetitive search; the phrase ‘der Flur hat sie tief ihr Siegel eingedrückt’ moves to its lowest point on the word ‘tief’; the piano postlude (repetitions of the same two-beat phrase with the first note accented) is a good musical analogue for the imprinting of a seal, not once but thrice, just to be sure. Nevertheless, simply because of an awkward mismatch of poetic and musical rhythms, Die Macht der Liebe does not rank with the greatest successes of 15 October.
Johann Nepomuk Ritter von Kalchberg was perhaps the most important literary figure from the Steiermark region of Austria (he lived and worked in Graz) between the Enlightenment and the Romantic period. His work was well-known in Vienna through plays like Wülfing von Stubenberg and Die Ritterempörung. These were highly successful at a time when Schubert’s father was probably going to the theatre in the 1790s, and this renown (Schubert could have heard the name at home) may explain why the young composer’s eyes alighted with alacrity on this poem by Kalchberg (in the almanac Selam) which was promptly set despite its unsuitability for musical treatment. Schubert, who found the work of another Styrian poet, Johann Fellinger, in the same almanac and set it on the same day (Die Sternenwelten) was later to have an enthusiastic relationship with the musical and literary life of Graz through the Pachler family. The chief fruit of that friendship was that Schubert took up the poetry of Karl von Leitner and provided us with a number of great songs (Die Sterne, Der Winterabend among others) in his last years. Kalchberg died in Graz only a few months before Schubert’s visits there to the Pachler family, and only eighteen months or so before the composer’s own death.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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