Scattered amidst the settings of great poets in the roster of Liszt’s songs are those to texts by contemporaries now largely unknown. Und sprich
sets a small poem by Rüdiger von Biegeleben, son of the diplomat Baron Ludwig von Biegeleben, a statesman who opposed Otto Bismarck and advocated for Austrian leadership in the German Confederation. Here, the poetic persona exhorts someone—his or her own inner self?—to look at the play of light and shadow on the sea and draw lessons about sorrow, fortune and God from the sight. This meditative setting from the mid-1870s is a perfect example of the late Liszt’s exercises in economy without ever sacrificing his lifelong genius at creating arresting harmonic progressions. The accompaniment is shot through with silences that allow the singer’s sacral admonitions to come through clearly.
from notes by Susan Youens © 2012