Cornelius’s Op 18, called Liebe
, a cycle of three choral ‘lieder’ for six- to eight-voiced mixed chorus, reveals Cornelius’s desire not to take historical material literally, but to rework it. In this case he drew upon texts by Angelus Silesius (Johannes Scheffler) from 1657, but he significantly rewrote them – the texts generally express human love for the Saviour. The individual choruses count among Cornelius’s more extended published works for voice, each displaying a variety of moods as the texts unfold. Cornelius builds these larger structures in part through recurring musical ideas, such as the first phrase in ‘Liebe, dir ergeb’ ich mich!’ (No 1), which returns in some form for every line that begins with the word ‘Liebe’. ‘Ich will dich lieben, meine Krone!’ (No 2) falls into a large ABA form and ‘Thron der Liebe, Stern der Güte’ (No 3) alternates sections featuring a lively and a calm theme in a rondo-like form. However, Cornelius never repeats thematic ideas literally, since the texts themselves are always progressing. Striking details of his sensitivity to the text include the insertion of 3/2 measures for the word ‘Liebe’ in No 1 and the irregular, enharmonic modulations to help express regret in the middle section of No 2.
from notes by James Deaville © 2000