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Trost, D523

First line:
Nimmer lange weil’ ich hier
composer
January 1817; first published in 1885 in volume 7 of the Peters Edition
author of text

 
This haunting little song is completely overlooked by commentators and programme makers; even the name of its poet is shrouded in mystery. Yet it is a superb example of how Schubert can write something memorable and touching without seeming to try. There is an enormous sense of anguished longing and aspiring for release in this music, but how the composer achieves this is almost beyond analysis. Nevertheless he lavished so much care over strophic songs in his formative years that it is clear that such mastery of distillation and concision was something hard won rather than taken for granted as a gift from the gods.

There is a distinct resonance here of other later (and better known) songs about death, and presentiment of release from earth's cares. The most famous of these is Der Tod und das Mädchen which was composed in the following month; Trost shares that great work's bitter-sweet majesty, all the more remarkable for being evoked within the space of a few bars in duple time. Schwanengesang also comes to mind – not the great cycle from 1828, but the 1822 Senn setting which achieves the same utterly Schubertian mix of elegiac departure and exaltation. In all three songs the dactylic death motif – a rhythm of a long note (whether crotchet or minim) followed by two of half its length – plays a part to a greater or lesser extent. In a song like Trost, with its ambivalence between the major key and its relative minor, Schubert is on territory of which he was a special master – the smile through the tears and the sense of profound consolation at the darkest times. The postlude with its gentle decoration on the penultimate crotchet is like the pouring of balm on a wound – the kindly embrace of death the deliverer perhaps.

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
CDJ33021

Details

Track 7 on CDJ33021 [2'55]
Track 14 on CDS44201/40 CD17 [2'55] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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