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Klage, D371

First line:
Trauer umfliesst mein Leben
composer
January 1816; first published in 1872
author of text

 
This neglected and almost totally unknown song has a number of the hallmarks of the great Schubert; it starts with the dactylic rhythm so dear to the composer, and has a depth of feeling quite out of proportion to its modest strophic form. In assigning it the tonality of B minor the composer shows how important it was to him. In the twenty-one songs that Schubert wrote in that key, there is scarcely one that it is not of the highest significance; Suleika and Mignon, the miller boy and the winter traveller are all made to express their strongest feelings in the key that Schubert chose for the 'Unfinished' Symphony. This is one of the earliest uses of this special tonality.

Although there is something hymn-like and simple about this Klage, its use of chromatic harmony and syncopation (cleverly illustrating the phrase 'schleicht mir hin das Leben' with a displacement of rhythm that suggests life running out of the sufferer's control) depicts great inner anguish. John Reed has written that it may have some autobiographical link with the composer's unsuccessful relationship with Therese Grob. The song is closely related to Der Leidende D432 which was part of the Therese Grob Songbook and also dates from 1816; that song is also in the key of B minor and paints similarly desperate emotions. The poems of both Klage and Der Leidende were attributed by Schubert's contemporaries to Ludwig Hölty (1748–1786), but neither poem has been found in that poet's collected works. On the other hand both poems seem worthy of Hölty and it is possible that the songs were ascribed to him with good reason. The notation of the song (alla breve) and the look of its accompaniment on the page somehow suggest a church piece with organ accompaniment. Klage has something of an archaic atmosphere, a deliberate evocation of an earlier musical style, which is part of Schubert's harmonic vocabulary in such religious works as Vom Mitleiden Mariä.

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. 17 – Lucia Popp
CDJ33017

Details

Track 3 on CDJ33017 [2'17]
Track 11 on CDS44201/40 CD12 [2'17] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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