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Der Strom, D565

First line:
Mein Leben wälzt sich murrend fort
composer
June (?) 1817; published in 1876
author of text

 
Like Fahrt zum Hades this is a relentless D minor journey to the abyss, but the river of life is more turbulent than the viscous depths of the Styx. For sheer harmonic audacity there is no water music like this in all Schubert; it unleashes itself with the power of a tightly coiled spring. A glance at the poem is sufficient to see why the composer's predisposition towards modulation is here given unbridled licence. The words 'krausen Wogen' were obviously Schubert's starting point: the curling waves lash against the climbing and plunging vocal line with unruly abandon. There is a moment of comparative respite at the beginning of the second verse as repeated As in the vocal line burrow their way through a valley flanked by a bank of semiquavers. The third verse with its dizzy modulations recalls a similar passage in the Schiller setting Der Pilgrim - the fruitless search for the answer to life is common to both songs. On hearing the piano introduction with an innocent ear, Schubert is not the first composer to come to mind; this stormy movement suggests rather the romantic fantasy of Schumann or even Brahms. It is interesting that Brahms owned a manuscript of this song and put it forward for publication in 1876. In terms of its modernity it could easily have been written in that year. (By coincidence, at about that time appeared another song from a very different song tradition which nevertheless resembles Der Strom in the compression and density of its harmony, and ceaseless semiquaver movement: Faure's Nell.) The authorship of the poem is a puzzle. Schubert wrote the song as a token of friendship for Albert Stadler, a friend from his schooldays who moved to Steyr in 1817. Stadler (who occasionally turned his hand to poetry) is thought of as a possible author, as is another poet from the circle, Anton Ottenwalt. The text has the quality of a diary entry, which brings to mind the great Schulze settings of 1825-1826.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988

Recordings

Schubert: The Complete Songs
CDS44201/4040CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 2 – Stephen Varcoe
CDJ33002

Details

Track 9 on CDJ33002 [1'31]
Track 9 on CDS44201/40 CD19 [1'31] 40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)

Track-specific metadata for CDS44201/40 disc 19 track 9

Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-88-00209
Duration
1'31
Recording date
18 October 1987
Recording venue
Seldon Hall, Haberdashers' Aske's School, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 19 Track 9
    Release date: October 2005
    40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
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