The beautiful setting of Uhland’s ballade Die Vätergruft
, Op 19, for bass or baritone and four-voiced mixed choir, was written in 1874, the year of Cornelius’s death. Liszt had already set the poem as a lied in 1844, and he would later orchestrate the song in 1886. As in Trost in Tränen
, Cornelius allows the text to determine the texture: the bass or baritone soloist presents the lyrics of the song over an accompaniment of voices, but this time the voices do not participate in the poetic text but present the parallel responses and commentary which are alluded to only in Uhland’s poem. Liszt’s setting of the poem is sombre; Cornelius’s is warmer and almost nostalgic in tone. The soloist’s unaccompanied ten bars at the beginning introduce the narrative element that is so important for this poem, and except for a few choral bars towards the middle of the work, he carries the melodic interest, with the subdued yet very effective choral accompaniment supporting and echoing but never leading.
from notes by James Deaville © 2000