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Hyperion Records

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Woman at a window (1822) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Track(s) taken from CDH55360
Recording details: March 1999
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Oliver Rivers
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: January 2000
Total duration: 2 minutes 24 seconds

'Pleasant, delightful … an excellent record: enterprising programmes, fresh young artists, fine presentation, typical Hyperion' (Gramophone)

'[Fanny Mendelssohn's] reputation deserves the kind of boost this excellent disc offers. Both Eugene Asti and Susan Gritton get to the heart of these pieces' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Beautiful, direct, simple and memorable new song[s] … Asti provides the beautifully limpid, balanced accompaniment you imagine Fanny herself might have played' (International Record Review)

Dämmrung senkte sich von oben
28 August 1843
author of text

This famous poem is from Goethe’s collection Chinesisch-Deutschen Jahres- und Tageszeiten (‘Chinese-German book of Hours and Seasons’), written in 1827 when the poet was seventy-eight. Fanny beautifully captures the tone of Goethe’s serene hymn to nightfall, when the oppression of a troubled spirit is healed by the cool light of the moon rising in the east. From the very first phrase the music slides from D major harmony to B flat major with rich chords giving the effect of darkness descending. The accompaniment gradually rises at the image of the evening star, and sinking harmonies are delicately interrupted by a sparkling arpeggio on the word ‘Abendstern’. An evocative passage follows that aptly depicts the creeping mists and magical moonlight of both verses respectively. The music here is a variation of the opening bars and the end of the phrase (‘in die Höh’/Zauberschein’) is inverted into a resolutery falling phrase exchanged between voice and piano that returns us to D major once more. An arresting calm is achieved at ‘ruht der See/ins Herz hinein’ with the voice on a suspended pianissimo note over subtly ambiguous major/minor harmony, and the piece concludes mysteriously with low tolling bass notes.

from notes by Eugene Asti and Susan Gritton © 2000

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