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An Sie is attractive and dignified. It uses a nineteenth-century harmonic palate (particularly in the second half of the song) at the same time as preserving some of the eighteenth-century conventions. For example the doubling of voice and piano at 'dich in der Ferne auszuforschen' ('seeking you in the far distance') is an old-fashioned practice but it somehow seems appropriate because of the pressing nature of the words; added to this, the vocal line rises in semitones – again appropriate to the words but, with Schubert's harmonies, a more modern effect than would have been used by Gluck. The setting of the second word, 'Verkündigerin' (a held note on the second syllable followed by a flurry of semiquavers), is as florid as a courtly bow, but it is no doubt seemly to address a herald in lofty manner. This device of a held note which culminates in a flourish is repeated for the adjective 'trübender' which suitably describes the flow of sorrowful tears. In short, everything that at first hearing might seem to be eighteenth-century musical mannerism is justified by a romantic response to the text. The longest note in the vocal line is on the repeat of 'Tränen zu viel'. Underneath this the piano changes chords to moving effect, and the postlude proves itself the jewel of the piece, a little solo which combines the stately poise of classicism with a more modern chromatic poignancy exemplified by the run of semiquaver triplets in the second last bar.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994
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