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Punschlied 'Im Norden zu singen', D253
First line:
Auf der Berge freien Höhen
first published in 1885 in volume 7 of the Peters Edition
author of text

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Punschlied 'Im Norden zu singen', D253
This is another of those hearty drinking songs which the composer seemed delighted to provide for musical gatherings in 1815. It is unusual only in that it is a duet. Schubert composed only two songs for mixed voices singing simultaneously, Licht und Liebe and Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, both for tenor and soprano, and this is his only duet for two tenors. It can also be sung without accompaniment and its inclusion in the seventh volume of the Peters Edition suggests that it would even work as a solo song. Drinking is a communal activity, however, and Einstein is probably right to think that a number of the other songs of ‘convivial character’ in the solo volumes might also be sung as choruses. Unlike certain of the male chorus songs where the piano accompaniment does no more than double and shadow the voice part (as if written for rehearsal purposes, which in some cases it almost certainly was), this Punschlied has an invigoratingly pianistic underlay which goes well with the marking ‘Feurig’ (fiery). The proudly repeated chords in B flat major at the beginning (the repetitive assertion of the key has a defiant Beethovenian ring to it) are in the manner of a polonaise, which may be the composer’s way of depicting ‘the North’. (After all, he used a similar rhythm for Lied eines gefangenen Jägers set in the cold north of Scotland.) The two-bar postlude, tricky to play, reinforces the polonaise rhythm and adds to the piece’s high spirits which sparkle and foam in the jug thanks to the pianist’s nimble bar-tending talents. This Punschlied is not to be confused with another Schiller chorus of the same name (D277, also marked ‘Feurig’ and also composed in 1815 ).

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1994

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