Hyperion Records

Meeres Stille, D216
This is a marvel of impressionistic calm. The sea is motionless but we are also aware of the sinister implications of a becalmed voyage before the era of steam power. A tensely wrought melodic line is underpinned by breathless modulations - the arpeggii in the piano part convey stillness and fear at the same time. The song is only one page long but it somehow suspends time and place: the horizons are endless, the ship is cradled in dark waters, the piano part seems to measure the sea's depth, its chords vibrating like a sounding with line and lead. Above the vocal line there is no trace of wind in the sails. Fischer-Dieskau has written that 'the score of the song looks like a drawing' and indeed here is a map of motionless semibreves and the undulating lines denoting arpeggii seem nautically illustrative. The only undercurrent is one of human apprehension at the void created by Nature who has withdrawn her cooperation.

Goethe's poem dates from 1787 when, during his Italian journey, he voyaged from Naples to Sicily, and encountered all weathers. Schubert never even saw the sea - Austrian lakes were as near as he got. Beethoven also set the poem (chorally with orchestra} at more or less the same time, linking it with a happy ending - a setting of the pendant poem, Glückliche Fahrt (Prosperous Voyage). Schubert preferred to leave the ship at sea, captured for ever and set under glass on the waters' depths.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 1988

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDJ33001 track 5
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-88-00105
Duration
2'05
Recording date
19 February 1987
Recording venue
Elstree, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 1 – Janet Baker (CDJ33001)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: December 1987
    Deletion date: August 2012
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44201/40
  2. Schubert: The Complete Songs (CDS44201/40)
    Disc 7 Track 10
    Release date: October 2005
    40CDs Boxed set + book (at a special price)
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