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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66954/6
Recording details: June 1994
St Martin's Church, East Woodhay, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Produced by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Engineered by Tryggvi Tryggvason
Release date: April 1995
Total duration: 17 minutes 53 seconds

'His idiomatic grasp and utter reliability remain as admirable as in earlier instalments. Excellent sonics and informative notes by the performer' (American Record Guide)

'These discs not only bear moving witness to Howard's devotion to Liszt, and Liszt's devotion to Schubert, but also offer a wealth of insight into both composers' (Classic CD)

'Other performers should be inspired to include this repertoire in their programs after hearing Howard's persuasive presentation' (Piano & Keyboard)

Franz Schuberts Vier Geistliche Lieder, S562
No 1: D343a; No 2: D651; No 3: D444; No 4: from D797

Himmelsfunken  [4'34]
Die Gestirne  [6'15]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Vier geistliche Lieder (‘Four Sacred Songs’) were gathered together by Liszt from two sources: the first three originals were published three years after Schubert’s death, and the fourth was issued in a version with piano by Schubert himself which seems to have escaped the compilers of Grove. (The original Geisterchor did not appear until even after Liszt’s death.) They were published as a set of four, and almost immediately were reissued in a set often with the Sechs geistliche Lieder (Gellert) transcribed from Beethoven (in Volume 15 of this series). Only the first of them is well known in song recitals—Litanei auf das Fest aller Seelen, D343a, (‘Litany for All Souls’ Day’) is a requiem prayer which Liszt treats with beautiful simplicity, even in the octave doublings of the second verse. Himmelsfunken, D651 (‘Heaven’s Gleam’) is a simple strophic song in contemplation of heaven, which Liszt arranges as a theme with two variations.

Die Gestirne (‘The Firmament’, D444) is a setting of Klopstock’s paraphrase of Psalm 19 (Vulgate 18), ‘The heavens declare the glory of God’, and Liszt’s response to Schubert and Klopstock is full of thunderous orchestral grandeur. Hymne is actually the Geisterchor (‘Chorus of Spirits’)—one of a group of vocal numbers from the ill-fated incidental music to Rosamunde, D797, which Schubert arranged with piano accompaniment (the original is for chorus with brass) which appeared in 1824 as Opus 25, with this particular piece as No 3. (The title of Schubert’s version with piano is confusing, because ‘Hymne’ applies legitimately to quite a number of Schubert songs and choruses.) The text, a likely candidate for the worst piece of German poetry, is by Wilhelmine von Chézy, and deals with Light living in the Depths and Shining (‘In der Tiefe wohnt das Licht. Licht daß leuchtet …’). Both Schubert and Liszt manage to make something quite beautiful from this tripe.

from notes by Leslie Howard © 1995

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