Blumenlied, D431

First line:
Es ist ein halbes Himmelreich
composer
May 1816; first published in 1887
author of text

 
This utterly charming Hölty setting is closely related to another song by the same poet, also in E major and composed just before it—Die frühe Liebe D430. It also bears comparison with the Hölty setting Seligkeit, written in the same month and in the same key. It is as if the composer is searching to establish a Hölty tonality and mood, and there is no doubt that for a few days in May 1816, in marked contrast to his 1815 explorations of a more reflective side of the poet's work, Schubert linked innocence and joy with E major and with Hölty. Other examples are Erntelied D434, and Minnelied D429.

It is impossible to resist the musical energy and genial high spirits of this music which is never raucous in mood but nevertheless suggests the earthiness of country life. Mention of birds singing with 'silberhell' voices brings forth delicately ringing semiquaver repetitions in the piano, first on F sharps and later on higher and more silvery Bs when we have modulated to the dominant and the words are repeated. The postlude, as simple as it is ingenious, brings yet another little-known page of Schubert to a close, a flawless miracle within its own modestly defined terms. The introduction of a lady into the picture in the second verse is inevitable in a flower song of this type (cf. the even more sexually charged use of this imagery in Im Walde). The springtime jauntiness of the music suggests that the sap is rising; the young man's attentions, somewhat distant and courtly if the poem is read on its own, take on a rather cheeky immediacy thanks to Schubert's music.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993

Recordings

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 18 – Peter Schreier
CDJ33018Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40

Details

Track 4 on CDJ33018 [1'26] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 9 on CDS44201/40 CD14 [1'26] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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