The painter Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld stood on the periphery of the Schubert circle; he may have attended Schubertiads. He was a close friend of Friedrich von Schlegel and he was the teacher of Schubert's artist friend, Moritz von Schwind. Schnorr was celebrated for his genre painting; one of his illustrations inspired a pair of poems by Schlechta, one of which Schubert set as Liebeslauschen
. There are certain songs which rely almost entirely on their melodies to carry them through: tune is more important than psychological commentary in this type of piece. Liebeslauschen
is just such a song, not a Lied in the usual Schubertian sense, but a picture of a song—or more exactly a song of a picture. Schnorr's picture is set in romanticised Gothic times and here is an ideal picture-book serenade. It is thus the perfect illustration of what scholars might now call 'inter-disciplinary reactions' within the Schubert circle. We have seen that Schwind celebrated Der Liedler
in a sequence of drawings, and here is a song illustrating an illustration by his teacher, the whole thing homemade in a cottage industry of songmaking. The music, in Schubert's most expansive and leisurely vein, looks forward to the Ständchen
, especially in the use of piano interludes which echo the vocal line. The setting of a line from Verse 4, 'Heimlich und von Liebe spricht', is a rare example of sloppy Schubertian prosody. The ghost of Mozart's Pedrillo emerges again in the 6/8 Allegretto section of Verses 6 and 7. The last couplet is a puzzle; the confusion is Schlechta's fault, and the picture is no help. Who exactly identifies the knight Liebemund? Is the narrator the mischievous third party below who sends up the message (and the song) and lisps the information in the manner of a talking flowerlet; or as in other Schubert songs (e.g. Der Blumen Schmerz
) is it the flowers themselves who speak? The postlude contains music of delicious whimsy, and new melodies even at this late stage, with a delight in the delicacy of the smallness of voice and bloom which makes one think of Wolf's Auch kleine Dinge
in the same key.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1989