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Die Spinnerin, D247

First line:
Als ich still und ruhig spann
composer
August 1815; published in 1829
author of text

 
This poem is ideal material for a strophic song; indeed any attempt to find a through-composed solution would result in something more like an opera. The words are supremely understated, as is the drama and sense of tragedy, and something nearer folksong than Lied seems entirely fitting. The girl too, simple without being stupid, would be more likely to sing something repetitive, burying herself in her work. Schubert has found his principal ideas here from the idea of spinning: the semiquavers are truly spun, like flaxen thread, delicately woven, passing through the stave's warp and woof. The original key is impossible for anyone but the highest and chirpiest of sopranos, and even then the tessitura is too high for the phonation of comprehensible words; this is perhaps why so few singers take up this masterpiece, for so it is, and there are also the usual daunting challenges of colouring and memorising strophic songs. The story is a tragic one of seduction, exploitation and disgrace (for this is undoubtedly what the girl faces when her secret is discovered) but it is recounted without sentimentality and self-pity, and is all the more moving for that. John Reed calls this 'a triumphant vindication of Goethe's views on the supremacy of the strophic song'. It was the fourth item in a book of Goethe settings which Josef von Spaun sent to the great poet in 1816, but it went unnoticed and unacknowledged like the rest. It is perhaps one of Schubert's most concentrated and effective strophic settings, in that the drudgery of repetition, the feeling that one of life's sad old stories is happening yet again, is built into the very form of the song.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989

Recordings

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 7 – Elly Ameling
CDJ33007Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40

Details

Track 14 on CDJ33007 [2'43] Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
Track 25 on CDS44201/40 CD8 [2'43] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDJ33007 track 14

Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-90-00714
Duration
2'43
Recording date
18 August 1989
Recording venue
Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel, Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 7 – Elly Ameling (CDJ33007)
    Disc 1 Track 14
    Release date: December 1990
    Deletion date: January 2010
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
  2. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 8 Track 25
    Release date: October 2005
    40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
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