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Herbstlied, D502

First line:
Bunt sind schon die Wälder
composer
November 1816; first published in 1872
author of text

 
This is another setting of Salis-Seewis from 1816. This simple little song has a charm and strength of its own; it is part march (it may be sung by harvesters or fruit pickers as they go off to work) and part chorale. There is no doubt that the hearty country folk as reflected in this music are upstanding, hardworking and religious; there was always a side of Schubert which took enormous delight in the activities of the common people, the backbone of German culture and the source of the nation's riches. In this respect the composer has a certain down-to-earth style, a little comically rough, which recalls Shakespeare's way with some of his caretakers, clown and mechanicals. In mood and character this song is related to the Hölty Erntelied from May 1816. The music is rather more subtle than at first might be supposed. Like An die Nachtigall it is in G major, and also gives the impression of starting in the subdominant. The sequences are charming and effective: two upward phrases at the beginning describe the brightly coloured woods, and two falling phrases the falling leaves and the mist. This may seem obvious enough, but how many real folksongs (and this truly has the air of one) would show such a feeling for the niceties of word-setting? Note how the word 'Wind' at the end of the first verse sweeps upwards in melisma, and the adjective 'kühl' wafts downwards from the tonic. All in all, this unpretentious little song is a breath of fresh air.

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 21 on CDJ33017 [1'47]
Track 25 on CDS44201/40 CD16 [1'47] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

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