Duets for soprano and mezzo seem to have been Mendelssohn’s preferred combination, but in those passionately impatient months of 1840 Schumann was interested in the blending of male and female voices – and, more specifically, soprano and tenor. It was not until the two ‘Spanish’ song cycles (recorded in Volume 6) that he wrote for other vocal combinations, including soprano and mezzo and tenor and baritone. The actual date of the composition of this music is not clear; there is evidence of a private performance of these pieces in Leipzig in December 1840. The choice of texts places three items of the opus as being companion pieces of other songs from 1840. The Reinick setting suggests a duet off-cut from the Op 36 cycle Sechs Gedichte aus dem Liederbuch eines Malers – ‘Six Poems from the Songbook of a Painter’. The two Burns duets, serenades of love-locked-out in rural eighteenth-century Scotland, are clearly related to the remarkable sequence of Burns lieder in Myrten. Only the duet with which the set ends is a wild card from the point of view of the literary sources: Familien-Gemälde is Schumann’s only setting of the poet Anastasius Grün.
from notes by ©