Schubert set seven texts by the poet Jacobi, all from 1816. The first of these, Litanei auf das Fest aller Seelen
, is certainly the most famous, and for the power and depth of its religious expression it probably deserves to be. The last setting is Lied der Orpheus
which has an epic quality not present in the other Jacobi works. In between these impressive pillars of song lie the five smaller Lieder. There seems to be some justification for presenting and considering them together: they were all composed within the same few days in August 1816 (they have adjacent catalogue numbers) and it is arguable that they comprise a miniature Jacobi cycle in their own right. We certainly know that earlier in the year Schubert and his friend Spaun had unsuccessfully tried to interest Goethe in a project which would have included eight books of songs arranged according to the poets; Schubert certainly already had a feeling for gathering together garlands of songs united by a poetic style. The shy and elegant musical language of these songs is also homogenous and undoubtedly looks back to Mozart. The first song is An Chloen
, and one cannot forget that the most famous Jacobi setting known to Schubert would have been Mozart's An Chloe
, a different poem written for the same girl. There is a deliberate attempt at a type of rustic simplicity here, something that the composer was to achieve in the highest degree with the poems of Wilhelm Müller in his two great cycles. The music is charming and hides, as does the little piano postlude, more opportunities for vocal and pianistic expression than may at first be thought.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 1990