In actual fact An die Harmonie is a more interesting and subtle song than An die Freude, although there is a touch of stiffness and old-fashioned formality in the way the song opens. The voice is made to trumpet the opening words in what seems an uninventive arpeggio; later we realise that Schubert has constructed a tune where the tonic chord is deliberately explored and celebrated—a salute to harmony in fact, rather than to melody. At 'Die das Herz der Erdensöhne' the music moves into A minor, as if the natural state of poor mankind is to be in the minor key. As soon as the comforting power of harmony is mentioned, the music softens into C major with an ingratiating bar of piano interlude. The chromatic progress back to A major via the words 'labt mit stillender Magie' is suitably magical and 'Himmelstochter' inhabits the stratosphere as is only appropriate. All in all there are a number of good Schubertian ideas in this setting, and whilst it will never be as popular as the other Salis-Seewis settings from this period (the mesmeric Ins stille Land in particular) it has more to recommend it than a superficial reading (or listening) might imply.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1993
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