Die Liebe, D522

First line:
Wo weht der Liebe hoher Geist?
composer
January 1817; first published in 1895
author of text

 
This utterly charming little song deserves to be better known. The opening phrase in the vocal line puts us in mind of Alles um Liebe, another song in 3/4, where the question is 'Was ist es, das die Seele fühlt?' The answer is, hardly surprisingly, that the soul feels Love. In Die Liebe too the question of where love resides is purely rhetorical, an intimate game between lovers played half in earnest self-examination and half in teasing jest. The music tells us that despite all the other distant sightings in the poem, love's noble spirit is alive and well and lives right here, between you and me. One can imagine the girl singing this to her lover as his mind wanders from the higher thought embodied by the text to the lower thought her body inspires. For the sake of appearances and decorum this is a love song turned philosophical and it is couched in the manner of a lecture, slightly four-square and earnest.

It is this whiff of the eighteenth century and an avoidance of the modulation and harmonic experiment dear to Schubert which suggests the robust song style of Beethoven. The introduction to this song has something of the keyboard sonata about it – two descending figures, each of them moving with a tiny flourish from the home key of G major to the dominant seventh. From this type of seemingly innocuous figuration Beethoven would build castles in the air; Schubert's mind was almost certainly on his greatest living contemporary, for John Reed detects Beethoven's influence on the Schubert piano sonatas written in 1817. This type of prelude brings to mind other Schubert songs, particularly the Baumberg settings (Der Morgenkuss and Abendständchen - An Lina for example). The last two lines of each strophe seem awkwardly set until one realises that Schubert has created, with some ingenuity, a hemiola: the last eight bars of the piece (in 3/4) might easily be re-barred as twelve bars in 2/4, or four in 3/2. This gives a jaunty, even slightly quirky, edge to the word-setting – an angularity which again brings Beethoven to mind.

We do not know where Schubert found the poem of Die Liebe. It could have been published in a periodical, but it is not impossible that the composer had some personal contact with the poet through Mayrhofer and his circle.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994

Recordings

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 21 – Edith Mathis
CDJ33021Download currently discounted

Details

Track 3 on CDJ33021 [3'23]
Track 13 on CDS44201/40 CD17 [3'23] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDJ33021 track 3

Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-94-02103
Duration
3'23
Recording date
23 October 1992
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Tony Faulkner
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 17 Track 13
    Release date: October 2005
    40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)