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Schwertlied, D170

First line:
Du Schwert an meiner Linken
composer
first published in 1873
author of text

 
This poem stands at the end of the collection of Leyer und Schwert. An annotation tells us that it was written a few hours before the death of the poet, a fact which has not deterred the composer from making a hearty song out of the text, originally sixteen verses long. There is as usual, however, a chilling mirthlessness about this typically Teutonic marriage between death and celebration. It is as if the steel which is about to enter the unfortunate singer’s body has already entered his soul. For English-speaking listeners the accentuation of the word ‘Hurrah’ seems unusual. Schubert calls for sound effects at this final chorus where he stipulates that the sound of swords rattling should accompany the jubilation. Hyperion, despite its warlike lineage in Greek mythology, is not given to sabre-rattling on its own or anyone else’s behalf; we regret that the clanking of a hundred swords must be left to the imagination of the listener. It is interesting to imagine how the requisite sounds might have been conjured by the composer and his friends when, and if, this piece was sung (‘Any old iron?’) at a musical party. Are we to assume that just as the average American of today keeps a gun in the house, most Viennese householders could put their hands on a sword with relative ease? In itself the song is a stirring enough solo for a young tenor promoted from the choral ranks. The tempestuous piano writing displays a Beethovenian manner, and the abrupt chords of the postlude suggest swords hacking through the air as they counter the parry and thrust of an imaginary enemy.

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. 20
CDJ33020Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40

Details

Track 20 on CDJ33020 [1'27] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 18 on CDS44201/40 CD5 [1'27] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDS44201/40 disc 5 track 18

Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-94-02020
Duration
1'27
Recording date
1 November 1993
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 20 (CDJ33020)
    Disc 1 Track 20
    Release date: March 1994
    Deletion date: January 2010
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
  2. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 5 Track 18
    Release date: October 2005
    40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
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